Weekly Business Idea

December 8, 2017 – What is Important to Me?

Posted on | December 8, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Do you have a lot of demands on your time, especially at this time of year?  Are you caught up in the Christmas season?  Or has Amazon made it too simple?  Have you done your year end planning?  Do you have goals and budgets set for next year?

Expansion of the Idea:

December is hectic.  We scurry around like a bunch of mice going from one project to another and then fit in holiday parties, shopping and kid’s programs at school.  We get pulled in a lot of different directions.  In my case, my firm is about to enter our busiest time of the year and I need to be ready for it.  There are a lot of competing demands on our time.

Last week, I talked about a tactical approach to make the best of the busy season.  I suggested that you focus on serving.  This will really help with relationships with your team, your customers and your family.  This week, I am going to suggest that you look at the issue strategically.  The important question is:

What is really important to me and my business?

This is a tough question and one that we lie about.  We lie to our customers, our team and most importantly we lie to ourselves.  We don’t intentionally lie but we do it all the time.  It is really hard to really define what is important.   The easiest way to determine what is really important to us is to ask the following questions:

  1. How do I spend my time?
  2. Where do I spend my money?
  3. What do I think of my team, my customers and my family?

When we start down this path of determining what is really important to us, we get rid of the lies we tell ourselves.  Frequently, I will meet with a small business owner who tells me what they are looking for.  As I ask questions, it becomes obvious that they don’t want to spend any time or money accomplishing their goals.  The reason is that building a better business is not important to them.  It is obvious that their focus is on money, vacations or status symbols.  Their priorities are themselves and their lifestyle.  They will take shortcuts to accomplish their goals.  They are just giving lip service to building a business or having a good retirement or any of the other priorities that they would say but don’t mean.  They don’t want to do the hard work of building a business with a concrete foundation.

It is critical that we name our current priorities.  These priorities are emotionally driven.  We are going to follow these priorities until we change our habits.  The funny part is that our brains might be telling us that we need different priorities.  Only by confronting the differences can we make the necessary changes to accomplish our long-term goals.

Here are some specific steps to consider:

  1. Do an audit of your time, money and thoughts.
  2. Ask your family to do the same
  3. Ask your team to address the business priorities.
  4. Determine if there are any course corrections that are needed.

December 1, 2017 – Should You Be a Servant Leader?

Posted on | December 1, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Are you going crazy yet?  What about your team?  Do you have a bunch of items to get done before year end?  Have you started your Christmas shopping?  Do you have 50 different priorities depending on the time of the day?

Expansion of the Idea:

The holidays are upon us.  There is a lot of busyness which leads to craziness.  Everyone has too much to do in too little time.  Frequently, people start thinking about all the things they want to get done before the new year and it paralyzes them.  They don’t know where to start.  You may think about your goals for the year and realize that you haven’t crossed any off.  Or, every time you cross one off another one pops up and you still have way too many things to do.  That is just the business side.  And then you think about all the personal things to do before year end and you decide the best use of your time is to just go take a drive.

All of us can get caught up in the busyness and we become less than effective.  If we look at our customers, they are in the same situation.  They are just scrambling to get through the month.  Everyone goes through the day with their heads down just trying to cross off items from their to do list.  The problem with having your head down is that you don’t see what others are going through and possible opportunities.

What would happen if you, as a leader, focused on a fundamental aspect of leadership – Servant Leadership?  What would your world look like if, instead of just trying to get through the day, you would look for opportunities to serve your team or your customers?  How can you make their lives a little better?  For your team, by relieving them of a little pressure, they could be more effective and actually get more done.  For your customers you could generate some tremendous goodwill.

Servant leadership was first demonstrated 2000 years ago but wasn’t really named inside business circles until 1977 by Robert Greenleaf.  He wrote a book called Servant Leadership.  In it he radically changed the discussion of what a leader is.  His definition is:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” – Robert K. Greenleaf.

This month is an ideal time to practice servant leadership.  When we serve our team and our customers, we can make a huge difference in their lives.  That will have a big impact on your life and your business.  The side benefit of practicing servant leadership is that you might find a little more joy in your life.

Here are some specific steps to consider:

  1. Pay attention to your team and their time demands.
  2. Ask your team if there is anything you can do to help them.
  3. Look for opportunities to add more value to your customers.
  4. Look for opportunities to serve your spouse and your family.
  5. Look for opportunities to serve your community.
  6. Go serve.

November 17, 2017 – Can Your Habits Help You?

Posted on | November 17, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Do you ever do anything without thinking about it?  Do you know what your habits are?  Do you have bad ones or just good ones?  Have you ever tried changing habits?  How did that work?

Expansion of the Idea:

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a book by Charles Duhigg called the Power of Habit.  I was instantly intrigued because I knew that some of the things I wanted to do would be impacted by my existing habits.  I also knew that I needed to develop some new habits.  I realized that while this was not the answer to all of my dreams, it would help me.  As I was reading it I started to realize how much habits and cues impact our lives.  Some examples are:

  • Saying thank you (or not)
  • Making coffee when you wake up
  • Grab snacks as you sit down to watch the football game
  • Look at email first thing when you get into the office
  • How you answer the phone
  • Park at the same spot at the store
  • Tense up with a team member or difficult customer

You probably have hundreds of habits, some of which you would not identify as a habit unless you really thought about it.  These habits could be good, bad or neutral, depending on the circumstances.  One good habit for you might be bad for me.

Habits are the key for people recovering from alcoholism.  They were also the key for Tony Dungy when he led the Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl.  He created habits to allow his team to move faster than the opponents.  The key with habits is to first acknowledge that they exist and then look at three things; the cue, the routine, and the reward.  The cue is what triggers the routine which leads to the reward which further reinforces the whole process.

The consensus in the book is that you cannot eliminate bad habits.  What you have to do is to change them from bad to good by changing the routine.  For instance, you might like to have a bowl of ice cream after dinner.  That might not be the best thing for your health so you consciously know you should not do it.  But somehow it happens.  Could you change the routine from 3 scoops to 1 scoop?  Or maybe when you get the urge, you go for a walk instead.  The point is that we have to substitute something for the habit you want to change.  And what we substitute has to provide a similar reward to what you got with your existing habit.  This isn’t easy but there are significant benefits personally and in our businesses.

By changing some habits, we can do the following:

  • Improve our health
  • Improve our relationships
  • Improve our energy
  • Improve our teamwork
  • Improve our customer service
  • Improve our effectiveness
  • Improve our leadership and management

The key thing is to identify what your habits are.  You want to continue the ones that are helping you.  Any habits that are hurting you need to be evaluated carefully and see if you can change the routine.  It also helps to involve others to help you.  They can give you feedback on how you are doing with any changes you are trying to make.  As a leader, when you are open to improving like this, your team is much more likely to do the same.  That is how you can make significant improvements to your business.

Here are some specific steps to consider:

  1. Make a list of personal or business habits.
  2. For any bad habits, evaluate why you do them and how to change the routine.
  3. For any good habits, evaluate the reward.
  4. Brainstorm with your team about potential new habits that you would like to implement.
  5. Read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

October 27, 2017 – Are You Making Enough Mistakes?

Posted on | October 27, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Do you ever make a mistake?  Or at least one you will admit?  What is the culture in your business?  Does everyone own their mistakes?  Do people get hammered because they made a mistake?

Expansion of the Idea:

John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, had a set of principles that he coached by.  One of them was “The team with the most mistakes wins.”  Or said another way, “The man who is afraid to risk failure seldom has to face success.”

Mistakes and failures are the building blocks in getting stronger and growing as a company and as a person.  Most of the time, we view mistakes as something we want to avoid at all costs.  However, there are really two different types of errors.

The first type of error is an operational error.  Examples would be sending the wrong merchandise to a customer, billing the wrong amount, or failure to return a phone call.  In my case it would be sending out a tax return in error.  These types of errors can seriously damage a business and need to be avoided.  Typically, hiring the right people, training them, and developing systems can minimize these errors.  They will still occur but they will be minimal and customers will accept the fact that you will occasionally make a mistake.  You just need to make sure that the mistake is addressed early and as proactively as possible.

The second type of error is a growth error.  These mistakes occur when you are trying something new.  This might be a new product line or service offering.  Or, it could be putting someone in a new position with significant amounts of additional responsibility.  Sometimes everything works perfectly.  However, most of the time there is a learning curve to a new position.  There will be some stumbles.  If you are developing a new product, there will be some mistakes.  If there are never any mistakes, then that normally means that you are not trying anything new.  In the current environment, we have to take some calculated risks.  Obviously, we want to minimize the risks.  But we can’t be afraid to make a mistake.  We will never move forward.

We have to try things.  And we have to encourage our team to try things.  When we go outside our comfort zone and fail or when we encourage our team members to try new things, there are a lot of benefits that we never would have received without this.  They include:

  • New products or developments
  • More creative workplace
  • Better problem-solving skills
  • More honesty
  • Development of our team
  • Growth mindset
  • Quicker resolution of operational errors
  • Better internal culture
  • Closer to our customers

There are probably 100 more benefits that I did not identify.  The point is that as we try to grow and do new things, we will make mistakes but we will learn from them.  They will allow us to reach places that we otherwise could never have reached unless we tried something that we could fail at.  And in the meantime, we are creating workplaces that attract people and serve our customers.  That is a pretty good outcome for making mistakes.

Here are some specific steps to consider:

  1. Make a list of the last 5 mistakes you personally made.
  2. Label them as either operational or growth.
  3. For all of the operational mistakes, have systems or training been performed to minimize those mistakes in the future?
  4. For the growth errors, what have you learned?
  5. Share with your team.
  6. Have your team do steps 1-5 above.  Discuss.

September 15, 2017 – What Can Kill Your Growth?

Posted on | September 15, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Would you be financial wiped out if your business was in South Florida?  What would happen if hackers got into your computer system and stole your customers identities, as well as their credit cards?  Do you have one supplier that you are dependent on?  What would happen if a key employee was in a traffic accident and was unable to work for 6 months?  What would happen if that was you?

Expansion of the Idea:

Last Friday afternoon, I had a client meeting.  I came out of the meeting and checked my phone.  It was lit up with emails and text messages from one of my credit card companies.  Apparently, I had just bought a couple of beds online for someone in Orlando Florida.  The credit card company wanted to know if this was an authentic transaction.  I was glad that they caught it and I of course told them that it wasn’t correct.  They canceled the card and reissued it.  The unusual thing was that earlier that day, I had tried to use the card and it was rejected at a local restaurant.  All my cards were rejected and then one of them worked at another reader at that restaurant.  Could someone have put a card skimmer on the one reader?  I don’t know.  All I know is that my identity has been compromised.

This was on top of the Equifax notification that a huge number of people’s identities have been stolen.  Throw in two huge hurricanes and you have potential for mass disruption of the economy anywhere in the US.  There are a lot of things that can negatively impact your business.  You may not have a direct link to a problem but a key customer or vendor may have been impacted.  Some of the indirect links may actually be worse because you have no idea when they will be fixed.

We need to focus on growth in our businesses.  I firmly believe that we need to be in a growth mindset or else our businesses will die.  Yet, we also need to make sure that as we are growing we have built solid foundations for growth.  Things to consider are:

  • Great systems
  • Great people
  • Training & cross-training
  • Emergency plans
  • Offsite backups of our digital information
  • Risk mitigation
  • Margin in our personal and business lives
  • Financial reserves

You can add other items to the list.  The key takeaway is that you need to evaluate your situation periodically.  For the business, this can be part of a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats (SWOT) evaluation, focusing on the weaknesses and threats.  On the personal side, this can be done by meeting with your key advisors; normally your financial, insurance and legal advisors.  This is something that frequently gets pushed back.  Yet the events of the last couple of weeks tell us that there are consequences if we push them back too far.

Here are some specific steps to consider:

  1. Consider putting a credit freeze on your accounts with the three main credit bureaus
  2. If you only have one credit card, consider getting a second one.
  3. Meet with your key personal advisors and make sure your financial affairs are set up properly
  4. Meet with your personal and business insurance agents to evaluate your insurance and risk needs.  You don’t need to be insured against everything, but you do need to know what is or is not covered.
  5. Do a Weakness and Threat analysis with your team to evaluate your business.
  6. Evaluate your computer backups and make sure they are working
  7. Evaluate your emergency plans.
  8. Do a cash flow projection assuming something bad happens
  9. Critically analyze your organization chart.  Identify positions that would be a problem if the person quit or was injured.
  10. Do a systems analysis.  Are there recurring issues that are more severe than you think?

September 8, 2017 – Are You Planting Seeds?

Posted on | September 8, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Where do you acquire new customers?  How long is your sales cycle?  More importantly, how long is your marketing cycle?  Do you know where you get new leads from?  Are you intentional about planting seeds to acquire new leads?  How effective are you at planting seeds for the future?

Expansion of the Idea:

I recently received a call regarding providing services to a small business owner.  It was an unusual chain of events that led to the call.  However, it was several different seeds, and a little luck, that caused the small business owner to call.  The conversation started 7 months ago but quickly became dormant.  During that time, there was also a little interaction on social media. The connection was revitalized by some volunteer work I do and hopefully will lead to some new work for my firm.  The point is that it took 7 months just to get to the point of talking about what they need and whether we are a good fit.  That might take another 2 months.  If we start doing work it will be another 3 or 4 months before we are paid for any of the work.  That is close to a year from the beginning of contact to when we start realizing any benefit from a new client.

Most small businesses have a longer customer acquisition cycle than they would like to believe.  They believe that they need new customers so that they can increase sales next month or next quarter.  The reality is that it could be anywhere from 3 to 12 months from the time that their marketing message is converted into business.  And then it might take another 6 months to convert the new customer into a customer for life.  There probably isn’t a standardized time frame for acquiring customers.  However, there could be a normal range for doing so.  The question is whether or not you have identified it.

The first step is to separate two terms, sales and marketing.  Frequently we combine those terms but they really are separate concepts and need to be approached completely different.  Marketing is the process of getting potential customers to raise their hand that they are interested in your product.  This includes identifying the product you are selling, its price, how you will sell it and a strategy for promotion.  The sales process is the system for completing the sale after a potential customer indicates that they may be ready.

The second step is to think through your marketing process.

  • What are you really selling?
  • What services are included?
  • How are you going to price the product or service?  (See July 14, 2017 weekly idea.)
  • How are you going to promote the product or service?
  • Will you advertise or do something different?
  • How many times do your potential customers need to hear from you before they may be willing to talk to you about buying your product?
  • What is the time period?

There is a lot more to a fully developed marketing plan.  The point is that it takes time.   The sales cycle is a separate process that will be discussed in a later weekly idea.  It is more concrete.  It is also irrelevant if you cannot get the right number of new prospects.

There is an old Chinese proverb that says “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”  We need to plant our marketing seeds now so that our future businesses will be healthy.

Here are a couple of things that I think will help.

  1. If you don’t have one, develop a full marketing plan.  Get outside help if necessary.
  2. Ask your team about the process of acquiring customers.  Plot out a time line.
  3. Define your current marketing activities.
  4. With your team, evaluate your current activities.
  5. Talk to a new customer and learn how they came to be a new customer.  People are normally willing to help you if it is personalized.  I recommend a phone call if possible versus a survey.
  6. Map out the execution of the plan.
  7. Start now to plant that tree.

August 25, 2017 – Can You Be a Creative Person?

Posted on | August 25, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Are you a creative person?  What about your team?  When did you last introduce a new product or service in your business?  Do you follow along with your industry?  Or, do you occasionally lead your industry?  When was the last time you tried something and failed?

Expansion of the Idea:

For those of you who know me pretty well, you would not use the term “creative” to describe me.  As a CPA, you may not want me to be creative.  (Or you might say I am not creative enough.)  I have absolutely zero artistic or musical talent.  I have no fashion sense.  I could keep going but you get the idea.  Yet, I have always felt that I had some creativity.  More importantly, I have always felt that I needed some creativity to run a business, especially one helping small business owners run better businesses.

Two weeks ago, I heard Fredrik Haren speak at the Global Leadership Summit.  His topic was on creativity.  I thought his talk was very good because he defined what an idea was.  It is when a person combines two formally known pieces of information in a new way.  I liked his definition because it meant that all of us could be creative.  All of us were created by God with the ability to be creative.  If you don’t believe me, give a 4 year old a box and see what happens.  The problem is that “creativity” is lost in the process of conforming to society’s standards.  It really is still there inside us but has to be rediscovered.

Is this really important for a business?  If so, how do we rediscover it?

I think it is absolutely critical for creativity to be part of our daily lives, both personally and professionally.  Marshall Goldsmith wrote about the need to do things differently in his book “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There”.   A lot of us build our businesses and then we hope it will just continue to keep working the same as it always has.  With all of the technology discoveries and the global nature of business, we cannot just expect things to stay the same.  Amazon is proving that it is competition to a corner neighborhood grocery store.  It has already closed most of the book stores.

The tricky part is where to start.  How do we start becoming creative?  How do we spur creativity in our teams?

There are no magic bullets that instantly turn on our creativity.  I know that I have been intentional about looking for ideas.  I will never be accused of being the most creative person.  But I can improve.  I don’t need 100 revolutionary ideas.  I may only need one or two “Elegant” ideas as Joe Polish likes to talk about.  It may just be a minor improvement to what we are presently doing.  The key is to start.

Here are a couple of things that I think will help.

  1. Make sure you have whitespace in your life.  (See last week’s idea.)
  2. Explore events that are creative.  Look for local art fairs or musical festivals.
  3. Watch a 4 year old.  (You need to be creative to keep up with them.)
  4. Be inquisitive.
  5. Be observant.
  6. Read articles of interest in magazines outside of your industry.
  7. Go to a marketing conference.
  8. Brainstorm with your team.
  9. Listen to “I Love Marketing” podcasts.

August 18, 2017 – What’s on Your To-Do List?

Posted on | August 18, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Are you overwhelmed right now?  Do you feel like the hamster in the wheel, running around and staying in the same place?  Does your to-do list depress you?  When you get home are you completely drained?  Does your team avoid you because they know you can’t handle one more problem?

Expansion of the Idea:

Last weekend I was cleaning up some things at home.  I came across a notebook from a meeting in Chicago from 3 years ago. It was one of those notebooks that hotels lay out in meeting rooms.  I opened it up and I had written 47 items on a to-do list.  I read through them and all 47 items were important.  I think I put the list together on the plane ride home.  (The reason it was only 47 items was that the flight was a quick 45 minute trip.)  I am guessing this notebook was stuck in a drawer at home because I probably didn’t want to think about all I had to do at the time.  It was too depressing.

All of us have been in that situation at different times in our lives.  Running a business can be all consuming and eat up all of your spare time.  You have new ideas that you want to implement and you add them to the list.  There are things that only you know how to do.  There is always something that doesn’t work.  Sales might not be predictable.  A good customer suddenly develops cash flow problems and you aren’t paid promptly.  A key employee suddenly leaves.   There are an infinite number of ways that your to-do list gets overburdened and you feel overwhelmed.

What should you do?

There are times when you just have to gut it out and work through the problems.  However, there are a couple tricks that can help.  I heard Juliet Funt speak at the Global Leadership Summit last week.  She talked about having whitespace at work.  Basically, it is a strategic pause to gather yourself.  This might be a short walk a couple of times a day to clear your head so you can refocus on the next project.  Of course, while you take a quick walk, five more things are added to your to-do list.  The key is that you take a moment and clear your head so you can focus.

Another trick is to create a special version of a to-do list.  This one has four columns.

  1. Your actual to-do list that needs to be done in the next 4-6 weeks.
  2. A list of good ideas that you want to do but not now.
  3. A list of things that you need to delegate.  You may need to train someone on how to do them but you don’t need to do them.
  4. A list of things that you need to stop doing.

Doing these two tricks will help create some breathing room for you.  By creating a little bit of space, you start making better decisions.  This leads to more effective use of your time and less emergencies.  As I am looking back on my list from 3 years ago, I realize that I have come a long way.  There are a couple of activities that I eliminated and saved me huge amounts of time and didn’t cost much, if any, revenue.  Part of this was getting clarity on what customers I wanted to serve and how I wanted to serve them.  There were some systems and policies that were unnecessary and created work.  You can only spot these problems when you do take the strategic pause.

Even with the savings and business improvement, I look at my current to-do list and I realize I still need a lot of improvement.  For me the biggest area is to keep future ideas separate.  I need to segregate those ideas so that I am not thinking about them right now.  This will allow me to focus on what is really critical.  This is a continual process that constantly needs to be reviewed.

Improvement starts when we come up for air and breathe.  You deserve it and so does your business.  The key is to start.

Places to Start:

  1. Take a moment and go for a walk
  2. Ask yourself if you are overwhelmed.
  3. Ask your team if they are overwhelmed.
  4. Put together the 4-column to-do list.
  5. Discuss it with your team.

August 10, 2017 – What is Your Best Return on Investment?

Posted on | August 9, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Where do you make investments?  What do you look for when you make investments?  What do you expect to earn on the investments?  What is your best investment?  Do you avoid some investments because the return on investment is hard to evaluate?  Do you focus on short term results or long-term investments

Expansion of the Idea:

Thursday and Friday of this week are my two favorite days of the year.  For those of you who know me well, you know that I am referring to the Global Leadership Summit which is simulcast throughout the US to over 450 sites.  I have gone to the Summit for the last 15 years and I hope I will continue to go for the next 15.  These two days are nonnegotiable days in my schedule.  I will be at the Summit unless I physically could not go.  The Summit has benefited me personally and professionally.  It has energized me.  It has helped me spiritually.  I could not tell you the exact dollar benefit of the Summit, but I could start listing a number of specific items that I use with team members, clients, family, and personally.  I am a better person, husband, father, business owner, consultant, etc.  Because I believe in it so much I have volunteered to help promote it.  I am totally invested in it. It may be my most important investment.

When most people think of investments, they think of the stock market, real estate, major equipment or similar types of assets.  However, some of the most valuable investments are not physical assets.  They are things like:

  • Yourself
  • Your people
  • Your customers
  • Computer and other systems
  • Research and development
  • Education
  • Ideas
  • Time
  • Relationships

There are a number of other intangible assets.  The problem is that we don’t focus on the intangibles like we may focus on how the stock market is doing.  The stock market is easy to evaluate.  We made money or we didn’t.  We can compare it to how the Dow Jones Index is doing.

With intangible assets, it is harder to evaluate.  We tend to discount intangible assets because we cannot see the direct relationship between the investment in education and new sales.  Or we can’t see how improved teamwork helps your gross margin.  When you invest in something like the Global Leadership Summit, you don’t know exactly how that will benefit your business or organization.  As a result, some people don’t make the investment.  And that is to their loss.  These intangible investments are actually what differentiate us from our competitors.  If you are focused on learning new things and your competitor is focused on America’s Got Talent, who do you think will be in a better place to serve your customers?

Places to Start:

  1. Are you making investments in the intangibles?
  2. Do you know how much you are investing in people?
  3. What are you spending in education?
  4. Are there items in the list above that need investment?
  5. Discuss this with your team.
  6. See you at the Summit.

August 4, 2017 – Do You Know Where You Are?

Posted on | August 4, 2017 | No Comments

Main Idea:

Does your phone know where you are at all times?  Or do you turn off the GPS signal because you are tired of getting the messages from Facebook or Google asking you to rate the restaurant you just came out of?  Do you have your kids phone tracker turned on, so you know where they are and where they have been?

Expansion of the Idea:

In the past few weeks I have seen several situations where small business owners had small and large surprises because their systems were not giving them reliable information.  There were multiple causes for the problems.  They may have outgrown their systems, had poorly designed systems, selected the wrong advisors or just didn’t pay enough attention to the systems.  Frequently it is a combination of reasons.  The problem is that if a business doesn’t know where it is, it is extremely difficult to achieve your goals.  This would be similar to being dropped off in the middle of the Amazon rain forest and you were going to rely on your cell phone for the way out.  You look at your phone to get your coordinates.  You see that it can’t determine which way is north, you are lost and you are almost out of battery.  You might have a tendency to give up hope.

Accounting and information systems can be one of the most useful tools in your possession to achieve your goals.  In an ideal world, the accounting system is working well and you know exactly where you are and how you got there.  You can plot that against the path to achieve your goals.  When you go off course, you can evaluate how to get back on course. It is extremely simple in theory and much more difficult in practice.  Systems require the following to work:

  • Planning
  • Communication
  • Clarity
  • Documentation
  • Testing
  • Maintenance
  • Revisions
  • Inspection
  • Management
  • Escape Valves (When to depart from the system)

There are probably a few more pieces that you could use to describe what is critical to systems.  The point is that you can’t just pull Quickbooks off the retail store shelf, give it to a bookkeeper and say go do it.  The accounting system has to interact with all of the other systems in the business.  The real power of the accounting system is to give you information on your path to achieving your goals.  It can either be a cost or a money maker.  The choice is yours.

Places to Start:

  1. Do you know where you stand financially?
  2. Are you getting key performance indicators that help you manage your business?
  3. Is your accounting system working well?
  4. Are you using the information to making decisions?
  5. Do you have short and long-term goals?
  6. Do you plot where you are and the path to achieving the goals?
  7. This also applies equally to your personal situation.
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    These weekly ideas are brought to you by FitzGerald & FitzGerald P.C. For more information about how to use these ideas with your small business contact Tim FitzGerald at trfitz@fitz-net.com.