Questions: Do you have advice for business owners looking to make investments and grow their businesses?
A: As CPAs and business owners, we understand the risks involved in operating an organization. However, success-oriented business leaders are always looking for opportunities in both prosperous and rocky times.
In our experience as business advocates and advisers to many successful entrepreneurs, one common attribute they share is their “can-do” attitude. These leaders have the passion and persistence to make their dreams a reality even when things seem bad. They are optimistic about life, both in business and personally, and when they are faced with challenges, they develop plans to overcome the obstacles that may be standing in their way.
The most successful business leaders surround themselves with like-minded people. They do not operate in a vacuum. Instead, they look for best practices and engage others in the conversation. They collaborate with key employees and advisers to develop strategies (short and long term) that will lead the business to the success that they want to achieve. Then they create an action plan to achieve these goals, which should include metrics to measure progress and to hold people accountable.
It is critical that you, the business owner, believe in yourself and in your company. Others in your organization will follow your lead. Your enthusiasm and confidence will become contagious with everyone who encounters your company, whether it is your employees, customers or vendors.
There are several other factors that will help you grow your business:
- Knowledge matters. Having the financial knowledge to understand and use your financial statements as a tool to manage your business is key. The old saying rings true, “cash is king,” especially when it comes to the fiscal management of a growing company. While many people focus on the profit and loss statement in determining the health of a business, it is equally important to understand the balance sheet that represents the assets, liabilities and net worth or your organization. You do not need an MBA to analyze your data, but it is important to have a CPA, mentor, business partner or good financial adviser who can assist you in analyzing your organization’s financial health and develop strategies to make your company more profitable and stronger.
- Advisory groups. Formal or informal advisory groups such as a board of advisers or even a CEO roundtable can provide a place for you to tap into expertise you do not yet have. Other business owners can offer strategies on marketing, managing vendors and even provide referrals.
- Business is business. Closely held businesses are close-knit and at times can feel like family, which is why many business owners struggle with the human capital side of their organizations. If you have people issues, perhaps it is because certain of your employees do not share your company’s core values. You may have individuals in the “wrong seat,” in that they are not able to fulfill the most important roles in their job function. You simply cannot keep people around if they are destroying your company culture by not exhibiting the organization’s core values or if they are not capable of fulfilling their roles in the business. Maintain a strong work ethic and do not compromise on core values. Stay true to your purpose.
- Hire creatively. If you are considering an expansion, but do not want to add full-time staff because of economic uncertainly, consider using independent contractors or temporary employees instead of hiring permanent employees.
- Embrace technology. Leveraging technology can be crucial for success-oriented small-business owners. Find ways to become more effective and efficient by utilizing technology. Valuing innovation and using it to your advantage can help you get ahead of your competition.
- Look for best practices. Be open to learning how other owners run their business and how these strategies could improve your company. You can also learn from mistakes made by others.
- Be forward-thinking. Be aware of trends in your industry and any adjustments you may need to make to remain or become more competitive. Planning for the short- and long-term are critical. Futuristic thinking will not only set you apart, but also puts you in a much better position to consider your business decisions and options in advance.
Be proactive and take the initiative to grow your business. Look at the current state of our economy as an opportunity to move forward. Things do not always go as planned and will change as time goes on. However, as a business owner, you must focus on the most important priorities to grow your business then take action to make your goals a reality.
Crystal Faulkner is a Cincinnati market leader with MCM CPAs & Advisors, a CPA and advisory firm. Tom Cooney is with Wealth Dimensions, an investment advisory firm. For additional information, call 513-768-6796 or visit mcmcpa.com. Listen to Tom and Crystal daily on WMKV and WLHS on “BusinessWise,” a morning and afternoon radio show that profiles highly successful people, companies, organizations and issues throughout our region.