Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wisdom in Counsel of many

As independent business people we literally have to make thousands of decisions a month. Most of the time, since the responsibility for the outcome of those decisions rests on us, we usually make the decisions our selves.  Wisdom tells us, that there is wisdom in the counsel of many.  Let me ask you a question, where do you turn for advice for you business? In the past I did it alone. I did not burden my wife or my business friends with my issues or problems or even my successes. I have learned that the more information I can share with my wife, the better she can help me process my situation. Since at the end of the day, most of the decisions that are made, she get to live with the results and with me (good mood or bad mood). I have learned that many times she has an intuitive insight that I don’t see many times. We have joked that every time I don’t listen to her insight it costs us money. 

I have also learned to develop a working group of other business leaders that have gotten to know me and something about my business. I have asked this group to hold me accountable to goals and standard we have all developed together. This has helped to keep me humble and not believe what the market is saying about my business during both great times and down times. As a person of faith I also look to the Bible for wisdom concerning decisions I make both at home and at work. For me the Bible gives me great insight into whom really in running “my” business. I have made it a habit to read one Proverb a day, everyday of the year. You would be amazed at the wisdom the writers of the Bible had for today’s business situations. If you would like help in developing your advisory board contact us at www.lighthouse-coaching.com and set up a free 45 minute consultation.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The More you Make the More you spend

The more you make the more you spend.
In the past 28 years I have sold millions and millions of dollars of products and services. I have been on compensation programs that included base salary plus a small commission to the 100% commission and everything in between. If you are like me, the more I tend to make the more I tend to spend. The $200 weekends at home can turn into $5,000 family ski trips to Colorado. The one mistake I made early in my business and I see in my office every week is that people take too much money out of their small businesses. Small business owners tend to ratchet up their take home pay as business increases or they keep taking the same take home pay when the business is hit with decreases in sales and profits such as what many of us just experienced during the last two years.
My question to you would be, how would you feel as a small business owner if you had three to six months of business expenses set aside?  There is no doubt that I am a big Dave Ramsey junkie, but when I changed the business models for both of our companies to include a percentage of income to be set aside for retained earnings, my stress level decreased 50%. I say 50% because I still work in the real world and things are changing all the time with end users, principles, distributors and clients. I now have a sense of peace that we will be OK if there is another downturn in the economy or if something goes wrong with one of the company cars or if we are fired by a client. There is no doubt it will hurt but having a fully funded retained earnings account gives me the security to take my time to make a good sound financial decision for the company instead of a move of desperation driven my the fear of failure.

 The hardest part about establishing a retained earnings account is the habit of spending every dollar that comes in the door on your business or yourself. There is always something that you may need or want for the business and we all can do the math and justify the expense. As we all know, most of it is tax deductible and we can write it off (touchy topic for another blogg). We need to emotionally embrace the benefit of having the reserved funds account and start to set aside a percentage of each months profits for the account. You don’t have to do it all at once but think about building it up to three months expenses over a year to 18 months. The peace of mind and the reduced stress is an awesome experience. The stress we live under running small businesses is tremendous and anything we can do to eliminate it can extend our lives and the life of our small business. Set a goal and make this a part of your business model. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Deadly Dozen small business questions

It the book of Proverbs is says"the wise see trouble and take refuge, but the fool proceeds and are  punished". In my office I get to see it all. So many times the solution was easy a few weeks or a few years ago and there was little or not cost other than the change in habits or direction.
 In Larry Burkett's book Business by the Book, he states that 60% of all businesses become unprofitable once their interest rate reaches 15%. Debt is surely a slippery slope that some business owners manage but there are other key areas that we also need to make sure we have a plan to address.  We see so many people who are so busy working in their business they never get to work on their business. 
We have compiled what we call the deadly dozen to motivate you to work on your business. This list of 12 question are for small business owners who want to take refuge and change their direction. If you can not answer yes to most of these questions, what are you going to do when something happens like a death of a partner or something to your physical health. If you need assistance coming up with a plan and then help implementing your plan, stop in and see us or give us a call at 330-808-3905 or visit our web site at
 www.lighthouse-coaching.com. Don't wait till it is too late. Take control of your future before someone else does.

Small Business quiz
Answer yes or no to each of the following questions

1) My business has a monthly written budget we use as a guide?

2) We have written job descriptions for each employee and job?

3) We have partner/lose of key man insurance to cover us in the case of the death of a key team member or myself?

4) We have checks and balances in place to protect our assets against an employee or accounting service from embezzling or stealing from us?

5) We have a board of “advisors” you can turn to for wise counsel?

6) We have a plan to become debt free and stay debt free?

7) We have a plan for setting aside money for quarterly taxes ?

8) We have a plan to develop or do you have six months of expense in retained earnings?

9) We have a plan or strategy for succession planning?

10) We have short and long term disability insurance?

11) We have a program in place to develop our future leaders? 

12) We are pleased with the lifestyle we  are currently living?

What question would you add to our list?

What question keeps you awake at  night?