The money management articles will help you grow your business.

The Value That A Business Coach Can Bring To You.

Some People Have a Therapist.

I Have a Business Coach.

Business coaching Tastatur FingerSo, while many people hire therapists, I have the business equivalent: a business coach.
I have been working with my coach, Michael, for close to five years. We “meet” via phone for an hour, usually every week. He has helped me to not only transition myself from investment banker to a media and entrepreneurial hybrid, but he is a constant source of support, ideas and accountability.
While coaches can vary in price — from $100 to several hundred dollars or more per session — price shouldn’t be the deciding factor. You want to find a coach who understands you and your business and that you are comfortable with, but also one that will push back on you, too. Hiring a “yes man” (or woman) won’t produce a good return for your investment.
Getting recommendations can be a good place to start on your search for a coach. Also do some research online and then try out a few in a complimentary or low-cost initial session (which most coaches offer) to get a feel with whom you think would be the best fit for your needs.
Here’s why I think that this type of business therapy is helpful and how you and your business can benefit from it.

I pay to only talk about me and my business

  • I’m an advisor — it’s the role I play in life.  Personally and professionally, I give advice to solve other people’s problems.
  • This means that most of the time, I am not focused on, or talking about, my development.
  • By paying a business coach, I get, for a full-hour at a time, to talk about and focus on nothing other than me, my problems, my opportunities, my goals and did I mention me? It forces me to schedule time to work on my own business, time that I would likely have spent helping someone else.
  • This discipline has been invaluable in morphing my professional life and growing my business endeavors.

Additional business knowledge

While I do have many friends who would oblige listening to me if I asked, many don’t understand business. So, their help isn’t so helpful in problem solving. Having a savvy business person in my corner gives needed perspective, such as seeing the forest through the trees, so to speak, from someone whose input is relevant.

Consistency and history

Having a history of working together allows my coach to see patterns or to reference things and opportunities that I have mentioned in the past that I may have overlooked or even forgotten, but that could be helpful in the present and the future.

No BS

Because my coach is a paid advisor and not a friend, he will call me out on the few occasions where I need to be called out. Friends, family and even colleagues are often hesitant to do this because they have a multi-faceted relationship with me and want to keep up the “warm fuzzies” in our interactions. The coaching relationship is aligned around helping me to succeed, which gives my coach more freedom to be honest and helpful.
On the other side of the coin, I am also brutally honest with my coach, because I know that there is no judgment. I don’t have to worry about hurting someone else’s feelings or being vulnerable. Not that I am one to really be anything other than brutally honest, but I still feel like I have more liberty to deep-dive into the nitty-gritty of my moods, challenges, etc. because I know that he will help me to work through those, without having to worry about it making family dinner awkward.
So, whether you are seeking discipline, a forum to vent or even a sanity check without judgment, I recommend that you invest in a business coach to help your business get to the next level.
If you would like learn more about how having a business coach can add value to your life and your business,  call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.

EXIT – Are you planning to get out of your small business?

All Business Owners Have PAIN’s.

If you’re scaling your business, you will recognize these PAINS

exitFor the past 27+ years I have worked for, with or coached business owners / leaders. I recognize that each and every business is different and unique.  The clients I have served range from the single real estate agent to the Executives of a 2000 FTE  manufacturing firm.  Often, our efforts surround finding ways to increase efficiencies, reduce time investment on projects or provide new and timely information have been the focused solutions.   This is apparent that they have PAINs that they would like to have eliminated from their lives.
RECOGNIZING THAT ‘EXIT’ IS A PAIN
This pain is most common for business owners that are in their 50’s+, have been working IN the business for years and, very often, will have feelings of being tired, or burnt out, and may have lost much of the energy and passion that was part of the early years of growing their business.  They are seeing the potential of retirement, but have just realized that their biggest asset is their business.
You will hear them say things like…
  • How much is my business worth?
    • Your business is worth exactly how much someone is willing to pay for the business.  The estimated sale price of the same business will vary greatly depending on their role… accountant, business broker, family member looking to run the business, key employee wanting to buy it, or a financial or strategic buyer from outside your company.
  • Who would be interested in buying my business? and how will I make that happen?
    • First – you need to start thinking about / looking for potential buyers years before you expect to sell / retire.  The path to transfer a business (for the value that you expect) is long, often unclear, and filled with barriers and pot-holes.
    • Second – look to the ‘low-hanging fruit’… family member who is working in the business, key employee that has been engage and loyal, or your competitors.  When you’ve exhausted all of these, then a business broker may be another option
    • The ‘HOW’ for any of the above is to gather an EXIT team of professionals together to help you develop and implement a plan… Business professionals could  attorney, bankers, accountant, coach, financial advisor, insurance, and tax advisor. All these can play a significant role and be of great assistance in different part of your ‘trip’
  • I’d like to retire, but who will run the business if I’m not here?
    • Selling the business outright is not always the best option.  It may make more sense to hire someone to run the business and have it provide an income stream to you and your family.  Each case is different and so will be the solution.
  • How do I convert the business I’ve built into cash for my retirement?
    • First – you need to know how much you will need when you are away from the business.  A good financial advisor will be able to help you put together a good estimate.
    • Second – now that you know what you’ll need, you need to evaluate what you have in liquid and retirement assets and an estimated value of the business.  For safety sake, I would suggest that you plan for the lower number on the price range of the business.   There are a variety of industry specific formulas to determine value, but if you take that EBITDA average over the last 3 years.  Multiply that number by .5 and 5.  The end result of the value of your business will (likely) be within that range
    • Having the buyer write you a check is the easiest and cleanest – but it doesnt often happen.  Talk to your EXIT team – they can help you develop a realistic plan
  • Making sure that we have a proven system for generating qualified leads will increase the value of my company… now I just need to figure out how to do that.
    • The value of your business will depend on its ability to consistently grow and scale.  Being able to create a steady stream of new business will ad great value to the business and significantly increase the amount someone will be wiling to pay.
HOW TO FIX IT?
As we mentioned before, the way to achieve your goal of Exiting your business is a ‘long and winding road’, but the following 6 steps can provide you an outline to follow…
  1. START NOW – Exit planning can be complicated and take time. Assemble  your EXIT team now.  Plan for 5-10 years and you may have enough time.
  2. CLARIFY YOUR GOALS – Share your dreams with your EXIT planning team.
  3. BUILD YOUR PLAN –Work with people that know the process. There is much to consider.
  4. MANAGE YOUR RISK – A strong plan should account for all the things that could derail the plan.  Protect yourself, your family and your business.
  5. VALUE YOUR BUSINESS – Find the right valuation formula for you.  Your EXIT planning team can help
  6. REVIEW YOUR PLAN – The only constant is change.  Review your plan yearly to identify any changes
If you would like learn more about how you can develop your plan to Exit your business,  call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.

MONEY – Often, the business owner’s biggest PAIN

All Business Owners Have PAIN’s.

If you’re scaling your business, you will recognize these PAINS

For the past 27+ years I have worked for, with or coached business owners / leaders. I recognize that each and every business is different and unique.  The clients I have served range from the single real estate agent to the Executives of a 2000 FTE  manufacturing firm.  Often, our efforts surround finding ways to increase efficiency, reduce time investment on projects or provide new and timely information have been the focused solutions.   This is apparent that they have PAINs that they would like to have eliminated from their lives.
9881157_sRECOGNIZING THAT ‘MONEY’ IS A PAIN
From the outsider, MONEY is often seen as the prime benefit of owning your own business.  But in business, MONEY can take many forms and looked at in many ways.  Here are a few of the most common MONEY issues…
  •  Need More Sales or Revenue:  This usually involves getting more customers or selling more to existing customers
  •  There is never enough money in the checking account at the end of the month
  •  Controlling Costs:  Realizing that you’re selling more but you dont have your fixed and variable costs under control, so there is often no money left in the account at the end of the month
  •  Marketing and Advertising in todays marketplace is constantly changing.  We don’t seem to be getting a ROI on our investment.
  •  Money For Growth:  If the business is growing, you’ll need to scale the way you’re doing things.  That will probably require new staff, more equipment, more inventory, additional space, etc.  All those thing require MONEY – often up well before you’re able to see the results of your growth curve
    • I have opportunities to grow the business, but need money to invest and cant get it from the bank.
  • Un-Anticipated Expenses:  If your business has been growing, one of the challenges for the business owner, is that WHEN the business begins to make profit, the owner(s) need to plan for Taxes, Business Reinvestment and Retained Earnings accounts.
    • By the time I pay all the bills and my employees, there is nothing left for me.
  • Your CASH-GAP?   Every business has one.  Thats the time between your investment in raw inventory, additional staffing or production time and the time that your customers decide to pay you.  Lack of Cash is one of the biggest challenges for business owners – even when they’re profitable.
    • Although we’re busier than we’ve ever been, the check book doesn’t show it
HOW TO FIX IT?
Make sure you have a good accountant that can get your business financial reports in a timely manner.  Making sure your monthly and year-end Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet are complete and accurate is the first step to making good fiscal decisions.  If you can’t trust the numbers, you will make bad decisions.
Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are gathered and reported weekly.  These are specific number that will measure the activities of different parts of your business.  The KPI’s will differ for each business and will change over time, but you should measure the things that will help you increase sales, reduce costs, increase efficiency, or track customer satisfaction.  These numbers will be used as a ‘ check & balance ‘ to make sure the monthly numbers are accurate.  And, because these number are tracked weekly, you’ll have more visibility to things that impact your business- both good and bad.  Ask the question…”What happened? Se we can do it again, or never do it again.
Here are some tools to use to improve MONEY in your business…
  • Get paid faster.  KPI = number of days to get customers to pay
  • Error Rate:  How many things do you make that need to be fixed or corrected.  KPI’s = Error% or Error Value
  • Marketing Metrics:  KPI’s = Cost / Lead, Cost / Sale
  • Customers:  KPI’s = Profit / Customer, Life Time Value of Customer, number of Transactions per customer
  • Get better terms from vendor/suppliers:  KPI = number days dating
  • Business and Personal Credit Rating:  KPI = Personal and Business credit scores
If you would like learn more about how you can increase the amount of MONEY in your business,  call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.

4 Main ‘PAINS’ Experienced By A Business Owner

All Business Owners Have PAIN’s.   Which one’s do you have?

 For the past 27+ years I have worked for, with or coached business owners / leaders. I recognize that each and every business is different and unique.  The clients I have served range from the single real estate agent to the Executives of a 2000 FTE  manufacturing firm.  Often, our efforts surround finding ways to increase efficiency, reduce time investment on projects or provide new and timely information have been the focused solutions.   This is apparent that they have PAINs that they would like to have eliminated from their lives.
We have recently began a partnership with Lead Forensics, a new and innovative technology solution that can provide real time solutions to many of the challenges clients have experienced.  Lead Forensics is the software that reveals the identity of your anonymous website traffic, and turns them into actionable sales leads.   This tool, can in real-time help to address those 4 pains.
Those 4 PAIN’s are… TIME, TEAM, MONEY and EXIT
time tredmillTIME – the amount of time being invested in the business has taken the owner ‘out of balance’.  Some of the key indicators of business owners with this pain are…
  • The business owner / leader is working 60+ hours a week
  • They will say things like…”my customers come to my business because of me and what I do”; or “if I wasn’t here, my customers would go somewhere else”
  • the owner is having family relationship troubles with spouse and / or children.
  • Health issues are surfacing with the owner – lack of sleep, anxiety, head aches, etc.
  • So much time is being spent cold-calling for prospective clients, with so few results.
TEAM – as a business grows, the only way to scale and grow consistently is to add employees.  But, because you are a good (add any product/service provider here), doesn’t make the owner a good ‘leader’.  Some of things we will hear when this is the pain is…
  • No matter who they hire, no one seems willing to follow directions
  • The person interviewed seems to be different that the person hired after a few weeks
  • When the owner’s not there, nothing ever gets done
  • No one has the same work-ethic as the owner does
  • The owner struggles to find sales and marketing people that can open doors and build relationships with our prospects.
9881157_sMONEY – this can be looked at as revenue, gross profit, net profit, cash-flow or finding the money to buy equipment, expand your facility or to fund a growth plan.  The things you will hear from the owners/leaders with this pain sound like…
  • There is never enough money in the checking account at the end of the month
  • Although we’re busier than we’ve ever been, the check book doesn’t show it
  • By the time I pay all the bills and my employees, there is nothing left for me.
  • I have opportunities to grow the business, but need money to invest and cant get it from the bank.
  • Marketing and Advertising in today’s marketplace is constantly changing.  We don’t seem to be getting a ROI on our investment.
EXIT – this pain is most common for business owners that are in their 50’s+.  They are seeing the potential of retirement, but have just realized that their biggest asset is their business.  You will hear them say things like…
  • How much is my business worth?
  • Who would be interested in buying my business? and how will I make that happen?
  • I’d like to retire, but who will run the business if I’m not here?
  • How do I convert the business I’ve built into cash for my retirement?
  • Making sure that we have a proven system for generating qualified leads will increase the value of my company… now I just need to figure out how to do that.
Advanced Business Coaching offers the principals, practices, tools and techniques to our clients to address all these PAINs.  We recognize that each of our clients are unique and special.   We customize the potential solutions to meet their particular situation and  their prioritized goals.
Over the next few weeks, we will look into each of these ‘PAINs’ in depth and share some potential solutions that have worked for our clients that asked us to help them overcome and remove these “PAINs’ from their lives.
If you’d like to learn more about ways you can remove one, or all of these PAIN’s from your business, contact Michael Stelter @ Advanced Business Coaching at 262.293.3166.  or you can email Michael at Michael@ABCBizCoach.com

When Is It Time To Fire A Client?

There are lots of reasons why a business relationship may not work out. Watch for these signs that you should cut a customer loose.

How would you describe your business?No one wants to lose business. We put our blood, sweat and tears into building a thriving company, and turning away customers seems to be antithetical to that effort. But it’s not.

The customer is not always right. That age-old golden rule of business has never been the true test of how well your run your company. Not all clients are a good fit for all companies. Personality conflicts, unrealistic expectations or just plain meanness are all very good reasons that a business relationship may not work out.

It’s not always easy to know when it’s time to sever ties with a client, but there are some telltale signs that you should consider cutting a customer loose.

  • When communication with them creates anxiety for you and your staff.You are responsible for maintaining a happy, healthy work environment. If you have a client who continuously wreaks havoc on your team, it may be time to direct them elsewhere.
  • When they are rude and disrespectful.This is a non-starter for me. If a customer can’t deal with me and my team in a way that is respectful, they have to go. Period. You have no obligation to be subjected to a toxic relationship.
  • Despite clear instructions to the contrary, they continue to operate outside the scope of work outlined at the onset of the project.Managing expectations is key to a smooth relationship. It’s one thing to make changes to the scope of work. It is another to make changes and not expect to pay for it.
  • When they continuously question rates and servicesWe charge what we’re worth. If they are looking for a cheap solution, they should look somewhere else. We only want to work with clients who value what we bring to the table.

We had a client that despite many, many, many conversations refused to understand the concept of “no.” She had champagne taste on a beer budget but refused to understand that changes cost money and the more complicated something is to create, the more it costs to produce. I pride myself on being able to work with even the most difficult personalities, but it became obvious that we weren’t the right firm for her.

For me, my piece of mind and that of my staff outweighed any potential profit. So, I politely suggested that she might be happier with a different company. There are ways to sever the relationship without it being contentious. Ultimately, that’s the goal.

A few tips for a smooth break up:

  • When it’s about working styles: Sometimes the breakdown in communication is less a function of conflicts in personality and more to do with working styles. In this case, referring and introducing another firm is the easiest way to transition the client away from your company without creating undo animosity.
  • When it’s about personality: In the case where the client is just generally unbearable, it is obviously a more difficult problem to traverse. But if you position yourself as a problem solver for their needs you can leave the relationship intact. By acknowledging that you are not a good fit for their project and that they might be better served with a different firm who could more effectively solve their problems, they are less likely to leave feeling rejected or angry.
  • When it’s about money: This is probably the easiest of the three situations to manage effectively. Never compromise on your worth. If the client is focused solely on the bottom line then the value that you provide as a company is lost. Suggest alternative options but be sure to emphasize the value you provide to your customers and leave the door open for them to return when that value is foremost in their minds.

When you follow your brand promise, a culture will emerge that aligns with your brand and tells not only your clients but your staff as well what they can expect.

Remember, you are on the front lines. Your staff relies on you to protect them. If you want them to stick around, make certain that you maintain a culture of mutual understanding and respect.

If you would like learn more about how you can make an evaluation of your current client to find the ones you should fire , call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.