Maintain Independence

After celebrating our nation’s Independence Day yesterday, a few thoughts on how Entrepreneurs could maintain their independence.

Entrepreneurs start their own businesses because they believe that they have a better product or service, or they do not want to work for anyone else. The latter is born out of a desire of having their own independence.

As they grow their companies, Entrepreneurs lose their independence because they cannot effectively manage their businesses and/or get into a financial bind. In such cases someone else has to come to lead the company or exercise financial control (through investors or lenders), depriving Entrepreneurs of their independence.

How can Entrepreneurs retain their independence?

First, understand one’s limitation in managing the business and build an effective management team to adequately complement the Entrepreneur. An enlightened Entrepreneur might even have to hire a CEO or COO to lead the operations of the company while the Entrepreneur focuses on his/her core strengths.

Second, pay attention to the financial strength of the company. Manage the growth and cash flows effectively such that lines of credit and borrowing are sufficient so as not to dilute equity. Even if equity capital needs to be raised, go for it when the value of the company is high enough so that the Entrepreneur can retain the majority stake.

Entrepreneurs can maintain their independence, but they have to work at it.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on July 5, 2017 at 4:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Stand Still Once in a While

“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.” – Chinese Proverb

Entrepreneurs do not have a problem of standing still. Rather, they are always on the move and wanting to grow – albeit too fast!

While the proverb emphasizes the point that one needs to keep on growing rather than standing still, Entrepreneurs sometimes need to stand still. Why and when is that appropriate?

Similar to a traveller stopping once in a while to get his/her bearings and ensuring they are headed in the right direction, Entrepreneurs need to do the same for their business. Instead of charging ahead with full steam all the time, stop, step back, and evaluate whether you are on the right path towards your Mission. Do you have the necessary infrastructure and leadership team to continue down the correct path (like a traveller assessing whether he/she has adequate supplies and fuel).

Make adjustments as necessary and then continue your efforts to grow. Standing still once in a while is good for you!

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on May 16, 2017 at 4:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rely on Processes

During the initial stages of growth in their new business Entrepreneurs rely upon a limited number of people to know most aspects of their operations. Entrepreneurs depend upon these key people for everything and if someone is not present, it disrupts the operation as no one else is aware of the required details.

For organizations to grow, it is critical to develop efficient, solid business processes. Reliance on an individual or very few people for knowledge of  the procedures to conduct business is quite risky and not prudent.

Solid processes provide the foundation for imparting knowledge to multiple people for understanding the procedures and if properly cross-trained, any one should be able to fill in or step up to perform the necessary tasks as required.

Information on business tasks residing with individuals not only poses a risk, but also eliminates improvements since the individuals have always been doing it the same way and see no need to change. A well-defined process on the other hand allows measurement and continuous improvement from many people to make it even better.

Entrepreneurs should rely on processes rather than individuals.

Ravi Patel

http://www.patelCFOservices.com

Starting with Realistic Expectations

As you start 2017, be realistic in your expectations.

As they start to work on their 2017 Plan, they have certain expectations of how the year will fare with revenues and income that the business would generate.

Entrepreneurs have an existing team and have expectations regarding their performance. Similarly they expect clients or customers, vendors, other stakeholders will work with them in certain ways in 2017.

Entrepreneurs need to be careful about not having false expectations or hopeful wishes when they embark on 2017. All expectations need to be realistic, rational, and take into consideration factors beyond the Entrepreneur’s control.

Having false expectations leads to unachievable dreams and disappointment. Moderate your expectations to be realistic, so that when your expectations are exceeded one has a reason to be jubilant.

Ravi Patel

http://www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on January 4, 2017 at 4:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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What Could Entrepreneurs Learn from Music?

Making melodious music and Entrepreneurs developing a fine-tuned business have some similarities.

Creating a melody requires the proper musical notes. A spectrum of notes is available to all, but picking the right notes to create a musical piece is critical. One or more wrong notes results in music being noticeably out of tune.  Similarly in business, an Entrepreneur has access to multiple resources – markets, clients, management team, employees, facilities, investors, suppliers, advisors and so on. Blending these resources properly, just like selecting the appropriate notes, will allow the development of a beautifully functioning business. A wrong choice or decision here and there ruins the musical piece or a well-oiled business machine.

Only playing the correct musical notes does not make a melody; the notes have to be played to the appropriate beat. The business activities of a growing organization have to be running at the right pace. One cannot have some parts of the company forging ahead while others are lagging. Moving towards the goal at a synchronized pace leads to success.

Entrepreneurs do not have to be musicians, but applying lessons of music might help them in successfully growing their businesses.

Ravi Patel

http://www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on November 29, 2016 at 3:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Perfection Not for Entrepreneurs

How often have you heard someone say “I am perfectionist.” It might be ideal, but it is not helpful for Entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are generally impatient. They need to see the fruits of their invention right away. If they wait to perfect it, they get bored and move on to something else. The market will not wait either – getting it to the market first is the name of the game.

As Entrepreneurs grow their business, they should be striving for measurable progress on established goals rather than perfection at a point in time. Sustained progress in the right direction is desirable than perfecting some aspect of the product, process or service without overall forward movement.

An idea that is ninety percent complete and implemented is better than something that is not put into practice as it waits to be perfected.

While perfection might be appropriate for artists and scientists, Entrepreneurs need to be progress driven! Show leadership by demanding progress from your employees instead of perfection.

Ravi Patel

http://www.patelCFOservices.com

When Asking Investors ….

All Entrepreneurs, especially start-ups, are in need of money. What are the key things you need to do first when looking for money?

1.   Ask for a specific amount. Don’t state ranges or be vague. If you do not know the specific amount, it does not speak well of you understanding the financial needs of your business. It is okay to ask for slightly more than you need to provide for contingencies, but still look for a specific amount.

2.   Outline exactly how you are going to use the money. If you do not have a well-defined idea of how you plan to spend the money, it does not provide a high level of confidence to potential investors/lenders. However, resist going overboard and itemizing each and every item. You should have that for your own use, but do not need it when looking for money especially in the initial meeting.

3.   Present a realistic argument of how using this money will build a business that will generate positive cash flows. This will be the main selling point. Investors or lenders are not only interested in knowing how they will be repaid (with upside), but also whether the business can become a self-sustaining cash generator. Again, the idea is not present a thick business plan with fluff, but rather a well-defined and articulated strategy backed by realistic projections.

Spend some time in working on the above three requirements before you start looking for money.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on September 13, 2016 at 4:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Growing But Not Managing

Most people love growth in their business. However, managing growth could be painful especially if it is rapid. In fact, managing growth successfully requires thought and is really hard work.

Adding employees quickly might indicate your business is growing. Has the infrastructure to support the integration of these new employees in the company increased simultaneously? If not, it creates a painful situation for both management and the new employees. Unaccounted or unforeseen indirect costs, such as payroll taxes, benefits and insurance, could adversely impact cash flow. Rapid employment growth might also attract government scrutiny for compliance of labor regulations.

Fast growth in sales orders is a great thing. Do you have the ability to deliver those orders on time and maintain quality. Do you have an adequate customer service function to handle potential issues?

Rapid growth in revenues also means an increase in receivables (unless you are fortunate to have a cash-only business). Do you have sufficient working capital or access to funds to accommodate such an increase or even delays in collections?

While growth is exciting, Entrepreneurs need to manage it carefully to avoid or significantly mitigate the accompanying pains. Leadership requires Doing the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

www.patefCFOservices.com

Published in: on March 15, 2016 at 4:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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What can Football teach Entrerpreneurs?

The football season is in full swing. It is impossible to miss the coaches on the sidelines with a color-coded sheet of possible plays to be called for that game. The head coach with all the assistant coaches spend hours prior to the game analyzing their competitor’s game, strengths and weaknesses, strategies and so on and blend it with their own team’s core competencies to create a game-plan for winning. Disciplined coaches with a good playbook are generally winners.

Entrepreneurs, do you have similar “playbook” for major strategic actions to be used against, in or with competitors, marketplace, economy, opportunities, employees and so on? Have you worked with your key leadership team to develop such a playbook?

Winning on the field, analogous to the marketplace, requires a lot of planning, analysis, strategizing to come up with the ideal game-plan for success. A playbook for winning a football game is similar to one required for succeeding in business.

Create a playbook for your business and ensure that you call the right play for the situation. Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

http://www.patelCFOservices.com

Entrepreneurial Independence

Just having celebrated our nation’s Independence Day, a few thoughts on Entrepreneurial Independence.

Entrepreneurs start their own businesses primarily for two reasons. They either believe that they have a better product or service, or they do not want to work for anyone else. The latter is born out of a desire of having their own independence.

As they grow their companies, Entrepreneurs lose their independence because they cannot effectively manage their businesses and/or get into a financial bind. In such cases someone else has to come to lead the company or exercise financial control (through investors or lenders), depriving Entrepreneurs of their independence.

How can Entrepreneurs maintain their independence?

First, understand one’s limitation in managing the business and build an effective management team to adequately complement the Entrepreneur. An enlightened Entrepreneur might even have to hire a CEO or COO to lead the operations of the company while the Entrepreneur focuses on his/her core strengths.

Second, pay attention to the financial strength of the company. Manage the growth and cash flows effectively such that lines of credit and borrowing are sufficient so as not to dilute equity. Even if equity capital needs to be raised, go for it when the value of the company is high enough so that the Entrepreneur can retain the majority stake.

Entrepreneurs can maintain their independence, but they have to work at it.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on July 7, 2015 at 4:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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