Business Owner as Teacher and Coach!

I was reviewing the monthly financials with The Boss in advance of sending them to his banker, one of the services I offer is coaching The Boss how to manage a banking relationship.  I was challenging The Boss with a few questions regarding the change in his backlog.  The backlog for the previous month was close to a million dollars and now for this month it is next to nothing, and the revenues did not reflect the million dollars in sales.  We took a step back to analyze why and search out the root cause of the miss-information.  Come to find out the production manager, who was only a few months out of the field and now in a management position, had made an error when estimating the backlog. It didn’t take long to determine that the production manager was never taught how to calculate the backlog.  Fortunately, in this case, we caught the error and adjusted the information prior to sending the financials to The Boss’s bank. After we found the problem, The Boss and I had a few conversations about how to fix the situation so it did not reoccur. What I explained to The Boss, who was […]

As Business Owners, We Are Gamblers!

It’s true that as business owners, we are gamblers.  We are willing to take those mitigated risks that our employees are not willing to take.  We are willing to bet our savings and, oftentimes, our homes on a new second location, an expanded master franchise agreement, or new capital that allows us to enter a new market.  Whatever the reason for the risk, we are the ones who say; “Yes, I got this!” Not always will those risks pay off, and sometimes it can cripple you and your company. That is when we need help.  But when do we, as risk-takers, feel we can no longer beat the odds and ask for help?  Often, it is when the pain we feel is extremely high and the initial risk has developed into a full-grown problem.   As The Boss, you have grown to become pain tolerant.  The normal day-to-day issues cause you slight pain as you struggle to make payroll or look for funds to fix that old piece of equipment again.  The bigger pain points are the larger capital investments you chose to make.  It is as if you look over the cliff and say to yourself; “That doesn’t look that bad and I believe […]

What Was The Boss Thinking? A Look Inside The Boss’s Head…

If you do not possess an “Entrepreneurial Mindset”, The Boss’s decision-making process may look very risky to you.  To The Boss, it makes perfect sense.  Let me try to explain. The Boss receives a small piece of information.  Most folks in the company see it as non-essential data with little meaning.   The Boss gets excited about the opportunity she sees and begins discussions to react to and move forward with a plan using the newly discovered information.  The managers declare the data they have is at best only 25% of what they would need to even think about diverting resources and investing company funds.  Well, The Boss is “the boss” and a plan is developed, and the company begins to implement the plan. In short order another 25% of the data is received, making the entire data collected 50% of what others would say is needed to begin to think about developing a plan.  The Boss reviews the new information and now with 50% of the data, she pivots and changes course.  Still moving forward and begins working the newly revised plan. A short time passes and an additional 25% of the data is collected, now The Boss has […]

Friendly Competition Makes for Greater Profits!

Like many business owners, I served on the state board of the industry my company served.  I got to know most of my competitors, some of the suppliers, and a few of our legislators as well.  We would discuss the industry and our own concerns regarding government changes, the economy, and pressures on the labor force.  One of the most valuable parts of this experience was the cooperative relationships we developed between each other. For example, one day I received a phone call from Bill, the owner of my largest wholesale distributor.  Bill asked if I had a certain item in inventory.  I answered that I did.  He then asked if I would drop it off at my competition an hour north of my location.  Bill’s warehouse was two hours south of my building so this trip would have been a three-hour one-way drive for his trucks.  He said he would replace the inventory item on my next delivery from him.  I said I would and promised we would deliver the item by the end of that day.  When I told my foreman what I wanted his driver to do, he looked at me as if I was “collaborating with […]

Do you know when to yell “Uncle!” It’s good business.

A frustration of mine and many of the business owners I work with is understanding when to yell “Uncle”.  In other words, when to ask for help. I often get calls from The Boss explaining a situation they have gotten themselves into and asking what I can do to help them cope.  Most often these calls come when The Boss is experiencing cash flow problems and their stress level is high. With hindsight being 20/20, The Boss realizes their error and wants help strategizing to minimize the fallout. One such call was cash is tight, but The Boss gets wind of “a deal” on a piece of equipment and goes ahead and purchases it without talking to the finance department.  Now to make things worse, the equipment cannot be used for several months as it is a seasonal business. The finance staff must find the funds to purchase the equipment and keep the day-to-day cash flow flowing!  As you would expect, this causes strife between The Boss and the frustrated finance staff. This is when I get the call to help relieve the tension. The root cause is communication issues especially when the finance department learned of the new equipment […]

Where is the best place to recruit good employees?

My son was playing basketball in our driveway one summer day and my wife made the comment that his friends were so nice and courteous. I assured her that our son was just as nice and courteous as those other boys. How did I know this? Watch your kid’s friends when they come to your house to spend time with your son or daughter. I would notice how our kid’s friends would act, the words they would use, or if they played fair and were courteous. I believe this is how our son or daughter behaved when they visited their friend’s houses. I told my wife I believe that when our kids host friends at our house, our kids are on their best behavior because we are there, and they know we are watching what is happening. Their friends aren’t as worried about what we think because we were not their parents. When our kids went to their friend’s house, I am sure they would act as their friends do at our house. Why do I think this? Because we hang out with people we like. We choose our friends because we have things in common and share many of […]

Employee retention doesn’t have to be a big problem!

Did you know that in today’s workforce we have four to five generations of workers?  This made me think of the businesses I know that truly understand how to manage the various challenges that come with a diverse workforce.  I get into many organizations and have the privilege to talk with many business owners on a daily and weekly basis. In recent discussions with some organizations, I hear their main concern is retaining the employees they have and stopping the employee turnover they are experiencing.  From other organizations, this topic does not come up unless I bring it up. I was curious why some businesses have huge retention issues and others do not.   In my opinion, there are many reasons for this, one overarching reason for poor retention is The Boss’s lack of understanding of the several generations in their present-day workforce.  Here are a few points to think about; First, I have been carrying an AARP card in my wallet for more than a decade now.  In my generation, I was trained in an autocratic management style. If you didn’t like what The Boss said and didn’t comply with The Boss’s demands, you would often hear, “My way or […]

“We’ve got to get shit done and we can’t afford to lose anyone!”

I recently began to work with a company that had a problem with employees not showing up for shifts and/or often leaving shifts early.  We called a meeting of the management team and began to discuss the problem and how to correct this type of damaging behavior.  I asked The Boss if the company had a disciplinary policy and the proper forms for the managers to use to correct these types of activities.  The Boss said no, the company never had anything like that.  The Boss said in the “old days” he would just threaten to fire any employee the next time “stuff like this” happened and that would be enough to correct the problem.  Today with the unemployment rate so low, The Boss says he is afraid to discipline anybody because of the worker shortage and as The Boss says; “We got to get shit done and we can’t afford to lose anyone!” As we continued our discussion, The Boss was not comfortable saying anything to the employee because he was afraid to lose another worker.  I stressed the fact that at least disciplining the employee or even letting the employee go would be the best action The Boss […]