Many thanks to Jim Gann of the Small Business and Technology Development Center (University of Missouri) for passing along four new programs being launched by the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC). The new programs are:
1. Missouri TechLaunch
2. Bioscience Industrial Expansion
3. Seed Capital Co-Investment
4. Missouri Building Entrepreneurial Capacity
You can read more about these programs at the MTC website.
Jim Gann, Director of Technology Business Development
And speaking of Jim, someday I hope to interview him in this blog. Need help with a start-up? Looking for ways to get your business on track? Need creative financing ideas? Need a great business coach? Jim is all of those. More importantly, Jim cares, he’s a great communicator, and he’s a man of integrity. I wish every small to mid-sized business in Missouri could spend 30 minutes with this guy. He’s awesome.
Makes me ill even thinking about it.
I’ve watched a few businesses go down the tubes, several others almost bust, and a current one that’s on its last breath.
Did I say I hate this stuff? If not, I do.
So when do you pull the plug? Two things come to mind. My Harvard buddies have a list of 10 or 15, but I’ll spare the academic details. So here are my top 2:
1. You’ve lost your love for the business. Remember way back when all you could talk about was the business? Now it’s gone. You dread it. Kicking money in the business every month stinks. You despise the employee problems. You no longer want to visit with customers. You want out. In that case, it’s definitely time.
2. There are no hopes of repairing or correctly the business model. Expenses continually out pace revenues every single month. Nothing will work. Again, an obvious sign to check out.
Before You Pull the Plug
Tell your employees. You owe it to them. If the problem is cash flow, give them a chance to be a part of the solution.
Jack Stack of Springfield Remanufacturing tells a great story in Open Book Management by John Case. Jack was staying at a Holiday Inn where the manager was frustrated his property could never cash flow. Jack learned from the manager that the occupancy rate was the most important key number and at a certain number, the property would be in the black.
Jack encouraged the hotel manager to tell the staff including the maids about the key number and what occupancy rate was required to break even.
It worked. Eventully, the property continually was in the black. Every employee was engaged and doing everything in their control to up the occupancy rate. Great story, great turnaround.
Love the term, love the concept, love the results. But no one seems to do it.
Several weeks ago, I was getting really frustrated with a certain client situation. Same old problem day after day after day. I had all the answers but my message just wasn’t getting through to them.
Finally, I made the part of the team start having daily huddles where the core problem would be addressed each morning for about 5 minutes. The meeting was a stand-up meeting and the agenda was simple:
1. What went right yesterday?
2. What went wrong?
3. How do we improve?
4. What are today’s obstacles?
Huge step in the right direction. Better? Yes. Perfection, not yet.
What’s a daily huddle? Here’s the video I passed along to the kids above to get to it:
When I start working on a new client or do volunteer work for micro businesses, I boil the business down as simply as I can. And my goal is to nail down 4 to 5 key numbers that drive the bottom line. Sorry, I can’t share all my secrets, but I’ll give you a little peak below.
And for each key number, I nail down some simple strategies for improvement or enhancement.
Just do it. It’s so painfully easy to do. Figuring out the next steps … well, you might need some help.
You should be reading your financials by the 3rd day of month. NO EXCUSES!
Some of my reporting ranges from 30 to 60 pages. And every page serves a purpose. And we get the them done quickly.
Need some help? Use my little grading tool below to assess your financial reporting situation. Address the problems and fix–it’s so, so easy to do.
In his book, he talks about taking your passion and building a following around it using today’s social media tools.
Vaynerchuk is known for building the biggest online wine business at some $60 million per year (that’s a lot of cases). He now does the internet TV thing for people that follow the wine industry at Wine Library TV.
So in his book, he shares how to build the brand through tools like Tumblr, Twitter, and so on.
If you’re afraid of social media, get the book, get the big picture, determine what you need to do, and hire someone to help you.
Other useful links:
1. Vaynerchuk article in Feburary 2011 Inc. edition
2. Inbound Marketing (another must-have book along these lines)
3. Crush It!
4. Vaynerchuk’s new brand-building business at www.vaynermedia.com where his client base includes the New York Jets and the NHL.
No, I’m not a fan of the ribbon. You know the one I’m talking about.
I loved the older version where I could easily customize the toolbars and even the menus.
Yesterday, I was working with an accounting manager and they were searching for the trace precedents function. It was in the formulas tab. Weird, shouldn’t it be in the data tab?
I went on to explain how to customize the Quick Access Toolbar. Mine is shown below. Just right click anywhere on the Quick Access Toolbar to customize this bar.
On my toolbar, I’ve added the buttons I use the most. Now, no guessing on where functions are. Once you click the Customize Quick Access Toolbar, pick the items you want to show up on the toolbar. When finished, you can thank me later.
I love a great quote.
Here’s my favorite from last week:
“Oh, I’m glad you’re still here.”
Brock Gandy on the last thing you want to hear at the end of a long day at the office. Brock is a second-year accountant at the Little Rock office of BKD, LLP.
Yeah, those were the good old days, public accounting.
To all public practitioners headed into busy season, all the best to you. Pace yourselves.
Bring it on.
While I continue to follow the BeachBody programs, I’m mixing it up. I’ve added high-intensity biking using a heart rate monitor. Love it. And with the heart rate monitor, I’m now listening to audio books without slowing down.
I’m also throwing in other routines for the sake of variety. On my scheduled day off, I still did upper body TMT (TMT stands for the 10 Minute Trainer, another BeachBody product).
Down another pound.
Again, the key is good nutrition. I was on the road three more days this past week. Again, no junk food.
I’ve heard people say they can’t kick the bad eating habits. Here’s what helped for me:
1. Start with small steps. First, I kicked the diet soda habit, and then soda of all kinds. I still have the occassional carbonated water, but I only have those about every two weeks. Then slowly drop the other bad stuff in your diet. I love cheese. I still have blue cheese on my salads, but I’ve virtually dropped all other varities. I also know my limits. There’s some stuff I just won’t touch because if I start, I won’t stop.
2. Then start adding dishes that are good for you and keep doing so. I you are not a fish eater, start with one dish per week and go for varieties like northern pike or halibut. Both have meat-like flavors.
3. Monitor your results regularly. I weigh every Monday and look forward to it. I also track my results in a spreadsheet. Again, great motivation.
I’m a big fan of Bernie Miklasz, long-time sports columnist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Today, he calls this the best Sunday in football, the conference championship games. I tend to agree, although last week was fun too.
What struck me was his comment about the Rooney family. Read on:
Executives and business owners, what’s the point. You need great people around you to succeed, to win, to take it to the next level. Do you have that team? If not, what are you doing about it?