Riding versus Walking on a Golf Course – Lessons for Entrepreneurs

This is not a philosophical discussion on whether a golfer should walk or ride in a cart to play a round of golf. Rather, it is the continuation of applying golfing analogies to business (see A Golfing Analogy for Entrepreneurs, More Golfing Analogies for Entrepreneurs).

When you ride a cart while playing golf you breeze from hole to hole without really understanding the golf course. However, when you walk the course, you get a sense of the course layout, the conditions of the fairways, the contours and slopes, the strategic placement of bunkers and hazards. Walking gives you a better feel for proper course navigation.

Similarly for Entrepreneurs, it is important to know your customers and employees. Take the time to “walk” with them instead of breezing by while “riding.”

When you are with key customers, resist the temptation to just have quick lunches or drinks; try to spend quality time with them to understand their business issues and how you can assist them. Get a feel of their operating environment and the factors affecting their business success.

For key employees, instead of a cursory greeting, get to know them and understand factors affecting their performance. Find out by being with them in their operating environment how things can be improved.

Practice management by “walking” instead of “riding!”

Ravi Patel

www.patelcfoservices.com

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Are You Really on Vacation?

Entrepreneurs need to take vacations as we have previously discussed (Entrepreneurs and Vacations).

However, are you as an Entrepreneur really on vacation when you take the time off to go somewhere? Most often, Entrepreneurs are so tied up in their businesses that they take their laptops and phones with them on vacation. They feel the need to check email messages and receive and make phone calls related to work. This is no vacation in the real sense.

Entrepreneurs should build an organization that is self-functioning in the short term and can survive without the Entrepreneur/CEO. Key management should be able to run day to day operations and make important decisions without having to check in with the Entreprenuer. When on vacation, Entreprenurs should only allow a single manager to contact them if there is a dire emergency.

Build a strong organization. Take a real vacation. Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Honest Feedback for Entrepreneurs

In order to continuously improve themselves and their business operations, Entrepreneurs need honest feedback.

While their other employees may be somewhat reluctant to do so, hiring key management personnel who can provide honest feedback may be quite valuable. Obviously there is a fine balance that senior management employees need to maintain between being perceived as criticizing their boss versus being loyal to the company.

Entrepreneurs need to surround themselves with key neutral advisors who are open to providing honest and realistic feedback to Entrepreneurs. Such advisors could be informal friends and business associates, members of a Mastermind Group, or Board of Directors.

It is of course necessary for Entrepreneurs to be ready to accept such honest feedback.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Keeping Informed of Company Operations

Although I advise Entrepreneurs to let their key managers run their departments within broad operating parameters, it does not mean that the CEOs should be unaware of what is going on.

Entrepreneurs might want to set up a periodic reporting system with their key managers so they can stay informed on the operations of their businesses. Such reporting systems might include a summary of key accomplishments, planned upcoming activities and issues that might require assistance from the CEO.

A periodic reporting system allows Entrepreneurs to keep informed without micro managing their key managers on a daily basis.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Fix Your Credit to Obtain Credit

Although the principle seems too simplistic, I am amazed at the number of Entrepreneurs who get into situations where their personal or business credit affects their ability to obtain lines of credit or loans.

Entrepreneurs start their business ventures through personal funds or credit, hoping to repay themselves from the profits from their companies. However, as they continue to grow, the need for working capital compounds the problems often affecting not only their personal credit but the credit rating for their businesses.

These situations become a vicious cycle where getting out is often very difficult and expensive. Entrepreneurs need to get a handle on their personal and business credit to afford them the opportunity to fund growth for their businesses.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

How Will You Deal With Potential Inflation?

Given the extraordinary and irrational current and planned government spending levels and resulting deficits, it is not abnormal to anticipate severe inflationary pressures on the economy.

If the other anti-inflationary factors do not not kick in over the next few years, Entrepreneurs will be faced with huge inflationary risks for their businesses.

Does you planning process take such inflationary risks into account?  What type of counter measures are you planning? Entrepreneurs may want to be proactive and start now to develop strategies to deal with potential inflation.

Please contact us at Patel CFO Services (www.patelCFOservices.com) if we can assist you in this process.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Are Vacations Mandatory?

Vacations are offered at almost all companies as a benefit to the employees. Employees use this time to spend leisure or social time with their families. Employees can hopefully recharge their batteries to come back to work rejuvenated.

Do you require vacations to be mandatory or can employees use the unutilized vacation time as extra cash compensation? If it is the latter, you might be doing a disservice to your employees. Vacations are meant to be used as a benefit for relaxation and should be used as such.

There is another important internal control feature in requiring mandatory vacations. It allows companies to uncover any irregular activities, if there are any, during the absence of  employees. Entrepreneurs should keep in mind this internal control aspect.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Is Your Banking Relationship Changing?

Entrepreneurs may want to get a pulse of their current banking relationship.

Given the tightening of government control over the banking industry, many banks are required to strengthen their capital:debt ratios. As a result of this, banks are reevaluating credit lines and debt relationships with clients.

Entrepreneurs may want to sit down with their banker and get a sense of what is going on at their bank. It might be prudent to draw up backup plans if Entrepreneurs get a feeling that the banking relationship is about to change.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Analyzing the Cash Flow Cycle

When is the last time you have analyzed the cash flow cycle in your business?

Understanding the cash flow cycle is crucial to working capital and cash management. It is important to determine when cash is generated and spent in the business and the duration of the cycle. What are the bottlenecks and what can you do to speed up the cycle?

Entrepreneurs interested in improving cash flow in their businesses need to first analyze the cash flow cycle.

If we can assist in the process, please contact us at Patel CFO Services (www.patelCFOservices.com)

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Replicating Business Models and Processes

Entrepreneurs can achieve growth by replicating their successful business models to new markets. The success of famous franchises has been based on utilizing this growth principle. McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks are just some examples of this approach.

In order to  replicate the business model, it is essential to standardize the business processes used in the model, perfect them, and then implement them in new locations. Efficient processes in all areas of business – financial, operations, marketing, human resources, and so on form the formula for successful replication and thereby growth.

Entrepreneurs desiring to grow their businesses may want to consider this approach.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com