Sharing During the Holidays

In a previous post on “Balanced Life for Entrepreneurs” I had mentioned that one of the four corners of a balanced life is the communities that you live in and conduct business.

Some Entrepreneurs dedicate a significant amount of time in civic, charitable and community activities. This effort is commendable. For some, it is part of their Mission and Vision.

For others, it might make sense to establish some type of focus on giving and sharing. What better time to start than around these holidays. In addition to your individual efforts in this area, you might want to lead your business and employees in community activities. Not only will that inspire your employees, but it will reflect your company’s s desire to share and give in the community that you belong to.

Happy Holidays!

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

“I Need Help”

These three words are so misunderstood, especially by Entrepreneurs.

Asking for assistance is sometimes incorrectly perceived by Entrepreneurs as a weakness in leadership or deficiency. Or as, it is too expensive to ask for help. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

It is widely accepted that Entrepreneurs initially start businesses because of unique, innovative ideas – not because they are professional chief executives. It is not fair to expect that Entrepreneurs are well versed in all major functional areas of a business. Asking for help in areas that are not their strength is not a sign of weakness.

In fact, soliciting assistance at the right time is rational and could save Entrepreneurs time, people resources, and money in the long term. As a strategy, Entrepreneurs may want to create a Mastermind Group of advisors whom they can ask for help at any time.

Asking for help at the right time is smart business.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Winners Adjust, Losers Complain

A recent Twitter post by Ed DeCosta – “Complain not about the wind. Adjust your sails.” offers great business advice for Entrepreneurs.

In this troubled economic times and uncertainty, it is very easy to complain about all the things that are preventing Entrepreneurs from succeeding. Some of the issues faced by Entrepreneurs including cash shortages, employee layoffs and poor morale, unsustainable overhead and fixed expenses, misaligned ratios of variable expenses to revenues, customer and product/service issues, high debt levels and so on are ripe topics for complaining.

Losers will take this opportunity to complain and find excuses to rationalize their failure, just as a poor sailor frets about the winds.

Winning Entrepreneurs and leaders, instead, adjust their sails to move forward on a steady course. Finding ways to increase cash flow; having employee work-sharing programs and non-monetary motivational programs to boost morale; reducing overhead and fixed expenses; realigning ratios of variable expenses to revenues, customer partnerships and product/service improvement initiatives; and restructuring high debt loads are all positive ways to adjust the sails.

What would you rather do? Complain about the winds or adjust your sails. Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Be a Leader, Not a Hero

Entrepreneurs sometimes think of themselves as heroes trying to hit a home run or create miracles.

Heroes are created infrequently and for a short time. While you might feel that you have to rescue your company from all situations, it is not always possible and more importantly not the right thing to do.

Successful companies need long-term leadership that builds the organization and the employee team to solve problems and exploit opportunities in the absence of the leader. Dependence on a hero can only work in the short term or in a few instances.

While Entrepreneurs might think of themselves as super-heroes for starting the company and making it grow though its infancy, strong business leadership is necessary to nurture it for long-term growth and success.

Be a Leader NOT a Hero!

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on November 28, 2011 at 5:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Be Thankful

Entrepreneurs have a lot to be thankful for!

First and foremost are our country and the free market system that allow Entrepreneurs the opportunity to create and grow businesses and prosper.

Employees are the backbone of companies and Entrepreneurs should be thankful for the dedication, loyalty and hard work put forth by their people to make businesses successful.

No business can sustain itself without customers and clients. Be thankful to your sources of revenue for putting their trust in you to provide services and products.

Entrepreneurs should also appreciate their suppliers and service providers who continue to supply essential goods and services to sustain their businesses.

Shareholders and financiers who have invested in your abilities to grow the business and provide a return on their capital should be high on the list of people to whom Entrepreneurs are grateful.

Do not forget to appreciate your gratitude to your business advisors who provide a sounding board for you to share ideas and seek advice.

Lastly, the community that you operate your businesses in should be appreciated also.

So on this Thanksgiving, I encourage Entrepreneurs to express their gratitude to the above stakeholders in your companies.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on November 21, 2011 at 5:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Should you Fire your Customers?

Some might ask what kind of question is that? Why would someone think of firing their customers?

While the old saying “the customer is always right” might be thrown around, it is not necessarily true that all customers are always good for your business.

Entrepreneurs might have to stand up and exercise their leadership by letting some customers go. Which customers are the ones that might be on the firing list?

Customers who are consistently not profitable for your business are not good for the long term. It is acceptable to have lower profits or losses from a customer over a short period for a potential lucrative strategic relationship. However, if the customer over a longer period continues to be a drain on your profitability, it might be time to let them drop off the list.

Chronic complainers, without legitimate reasons, are very difficult to service and cause undue headaches for your employees. Unless the customer has genuine reasons to be dissatisfied, it is not in the best interest of management to service clients that constantly create irrational demands on your staff.

Entrepreneurs need to develop an excellent reputation for service and customer relations, but if need be it is okay to fire certain problem customers.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Unmanaged Growth Can Be Painful

Most people would 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 business growth. 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 unforseen 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

Strive for Progress, Not Perfection

How often have you heard someone say “I am perfectionist.” It might be good, 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

www.patelCFOservices.com

Reinforcing your Vision and Mission

Entrepreneurs – have you developed a Vision and Mission for your company? If so, that’s a great step one.

If not, you need to work on that. Since a lot of articles exist on how to develop a Vision and Mission Statement, I am not going to go into that here.

Having a defined Vision and Mission for your business is not enough. Communicating that to your leadership team and employees is crucial in order to obtain wide acceptance. The Vision and Mission that you developed is only a starting point, not the end.

Most Entrepreneurs, once aware of the need to do so, are diligent about developing their Mission and Vision. They even go through a formal process of publicizing it on their website and brochures and communicating it to their employees.

However, how often is the Mission reinforced to your stakeholders, especially your employees? If infrequently or none at all, there is a strong possibility that your overall business direction will be forgotten when your employees are deeply focusing on their daily tasks. Your Vision has to be their guiding principle too!

Reinforcing your Vision and Mission frequently is a necessary leadership step to ensure that the direction that your company should be moving towards is not forgotten.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com