Artists, Musicians, and Financials, Oh My! Doesn’t Have to be Scary.

I was invited to present at a self-employment in the arts conference where my audience was artists, musicians, and other self-employed artist types. My topic was “Financials and the Arts”. I have experience presenting financial literacy to executive directors of nonprofits, so I had a sense of the relationship between understanding the mission of an organization and understanding the financials of an organization. These artists had a very strong sense of mission, but not much of finance. I began by explaining the three financial statements. The profit and loss statement is like your paycheck. If you worked 40 hours a week at $10 an hour, your take-home pay was not $400. It was less due to taxes, insurances, and other deductions. This is how the profit and loss statement works. Your revenue minus your expenses and then you get to take home the difference in the form of profits. Your cash flow statement works like your personal debit card. If you have money in your account, you can draw funds from your debit card or pay bills with it. You don’t have to put money into your debit card account every day in order to use it every day. When […]

Bartering? I’m Not A Fan!

I was approached by one of my competitors who thought I would be interested in buying his business.  Anyone who has ever had this happens knows that a business owner just doesn’t want to sell their business, something is not working well, and they want out.  They may not have a relative or business partner to buy their company so they go soliciting potential buyers so they can exit the company.   They are looking for a succession plan! I agreed to do a walkthrough of his company.  If you would ask my wife, she would not have been surprised, as she often points out to me it was not “either this or that”, most likely, I would see things as “this and that” and away we go!  As I asked questions and walked through his company, I notice his breakroom floor.  It had a very nice-looking new ceramic tile floor.  Now anyone who has ever worked in a manufacturing company would tell you that having a ceramic floor in the breakroom was an anomaly.  So, I had to ask why? The owner said that he did a job for a tile company, and the tile company wanted to barter […]

An Essential Tool for Business, during Good and Bad Times!

Back in the day, as I am told I say way too often, a full-blown business plan would be necessary to get funding, and some may say to have a successful business.  Today, times have changed and that 20-plus page business plan has become somewhat obsolete. What has replaced it? A three-year financial projection with eight to ten pages describing how The Boss is going to execute to achieve the Pro-forma numbers.  One of my past careers, I worked in an entrepreneurship center where we helped entrepreneurs launched approximately 170 new businesses over four years. What I saw were many of these new businesses going out of business in about eighteen to twenty-four months after launching.  After closer investigation we noted that the new business could not cash flow after the start-up funding was used up, causing the businesses to fail. That old adage is true, “You can have profits without cash flow and go out of business, but you can have cash flow without profits and fight another day!” If you want to know your business intimately, create a three-year operating budget with a very detailed first-year and two following years of projections.  At the end of the first […]

Guident Newsletter – October 2018 – Issue 29

Step #1 – You are a business first! When I first begin working with a new business, I often hear business owners say they are printers, landscapers, mechanics, etc.  The first step in changing a culture and growing a business is to change the way the business owner sees their company. You are a business owner who is first running a business that happens to do printing, you are a business owner who is first running a business that happens to do landscaping, and you are a business owner who is first running a business that happens to repair automobiles.  It’s a new discipline for most small to midsize business owners who relate the business to their personal talents. One of the businesses I was a partner in was a sign company.  We built the types of signs you see on the street corners and on the fronts of buildings.  We had a talented workforce, but the business was stagnant. In order for us to grow the business, we had to change the way we thought of ourselves.  Most all of our employees see our business as a sign company building signs. The business had the ability to be much […]

Guident Newsletter – September 2018 – Issue 28

Ten Good Old Rules! In my office, I have a small piece of paper with “Ten Good Old Rules” on it.  Back in 2001, I found these ten rules in the fall issue of a business magazine named, Business Edge.  I have been carrying these rules around for going on sixteen years so I thought it would be a good topic for this newsletter.  Here they are in the order they appeared in the 2001 issue; Control expenses Emphasize cash flow over growth Conserve cash reserves Eliminate or reduce unprofitable product or service lines Maximize efficiencies in the usage of energy, materials, and labor Reduce inventories Reduce or eliminate the number of free services Take advantage of lower prices for essential goods and services Watch for opportunities to acquire a competitors’ business if offered at a bargain rate Don’t get emotional; it’s just business Let’s break them down by the numbers.  #1 Control expenses by creating an annual operating budget and analyzing each month using the actual versus budget function from your accounting software you will be able to see what expenses are on target and which ones need attention.  #2 Emphasize cash flow overgrowth; often I see businesses with […]

Guident Newsletter – January 2018 – Issue 20

Understanding financials, as easy as riding a bicycle? Imagine being introduced to a bicycle for the first time as an adult. You are told all you have to do is hop on and start peddling, it’s easy! You think about it and you have your doubts. After all, you have had classes on Newton’s Law of Gravity and you understand that the force which caused the apple’s acceleration (gravity) must be dependent upon the mass of the apple. Common sense tells you that with your mass, you will hit the ground hard when you tip either to the left or the right. Yet, you see small children enjoying riding their bicycles without falling. How does this work, the rider should tip and fall, this riding a bicycle just doesn’t make sense. It won’t make sense until you are taught how to ride the bicycle and more importantly until you believe you can balance the bicycle and NOT fall to either side. I am suggesting you think of financials like riding a bicycle, they will not make sense until you are taught how they work and more importantly until you believe you can understand them. I have worked with several artists […]

Guident Newsletter – September 2017 – Issue 16

By the numbers; “Where do Discounts come from, revenues or profit?” Many of my clients have sales staff and pay sales commission on “top line” revenues. I often get the question regarding my opinion on offering a “discount” to close the deal. I usually give The Boss a typical consultant’s answer like, “It depends.” I begin the discussion by asking The Boss where the discount is coming from. They look at me with a somewhat puzzled look and ask, “What are you talking about?” Most of the business owners I work with see discounts coming solely off of “top line” revenues. For example, they may have a $10,000 proposal that is in a competitive situation and their sales person believes they need to discount the job in order to get the work. Together they may believe a $1,000 discount is necessary to “close the deal”. A 10% reduction in price to get the job and reach their revenue goals, keep their people working, and possibly steal a competitor’s customer is acceptable in their minds. It very well may be but we need to understand the full impact of the discount as it pertains to net profit not just “top line” […]

Guident Newsletter – January 2017 – Issue 8

Does your Company have a GPS and if so, do you use it? A few years ago I bought a GPS for my car and I liked it so much I bought one for my wife’s car also.  Eventually we got GPS service on our smartphones and we tend to us that GPS more often.  I recently bought a car that has a GPS as standard options and I like it even more.   It works best when there is a detour or when I am going to a new client’s office and I don’t want to waste time guessing what route to take.   In Q4 or early in Q1 I work with my clients to create an annual operating budget.  We look at past performance, we look at all costs (valid numbers will work the best but don’t let iffy numbers stop you), we look at revenues because most business owners will track revenue fairly accurately but may fall short on tracking operating costs.   We identify profit centers for the business and determine the gross profit per profit center best we can with the data we have.  The more valid the past data the more accurate the pro-forma annual […]