Author page: Robyn Goldenberg

Exit Planning in a Crisis

Stressful economic times often cause business owners to put their head in the sand with try to withstand the storm.

It’s hard to pivot when you can’t see what’s coming. It’s even harder to effect change when you won’t look up. For giant companies, change is the enemy, but small businesses are uniquely prepared to take on the challenge and change and adapt when the time calls for it. In these uncertain times, it can feel particularly challenging for business owners to plan the future, especially when it feels like we’re running on “what if’s” on a daily basis. The truth is that we as business owners can continue to accept this chaos and let the chaos run us, or business owners can hunker down, decide to accept that change is inevitable, and plan out the future.

What about our employees during COVID19?

The current global health crisis is shifting the way businesses are able to operate. Many are having to adjust their practices and strategies, and are facing abrupt and devastating changes to their financial stability. There’s been a lot of  concerns from our clients about what they should be doing with employees during the COVID19 pandemic. Employers have a few options, which we’ve explained here.

Different options when it comes to payroll during COVID19 – reduction in hours, layoff, furlough, keep on employing people and apply for a loan – not sure what’s right for us and our employees. If we reduce salaried or hourly employees to below FT (below 32 hours/week), employees could lose their benefits What should we say to our employees? How to manage sick leave – what’s mandated, and what should we do? Are business owners eligible to receive unemployment?

Importance of a valuation for your business during a crisis

98% of small business owners don’t know what their business is worth. You don’t plan for retirement a few months before you retire so why wait until a major life event to plan the future of your business?

When planning for the future, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the unknown. You might not know how much your business is worth, when you should sell, where to find the right buyer, how to fetch the best price, or even how much insurance to carry.

Fixing Efficiencies in the Service Department

Our service department is a headache and as a small business that can spell disaster. Employees take more time than necessary to complete jobs, other times they skip parts of what they’re supposed to do. Some folks are often late, others forget to clock in. We need to change things around.

Thoughts of the Day: Start with a top down assessment. Set excellence as the standard. Make sure to use metrics to speak with facts about what’s going on. Build up teams to support what you’re trying to accomplish.

CRM for More Business

I know that before we can focus on closing sales, we have to button things up with putting leads on the table and keeping track of them. A couple proposals and follow ups slipped through the cracks recently, which has me worried. Want to work smarter, not harder. Need a system to know how we’re doing with the potential sales we’re working to get.

Thoughts of the Day: Marketing precedes sales, and it’s a huge topic. Build a system for tracking opportunities. Work that system to generate new business. Figure out how many opportunities convert from one stage of the pipeline to the next. Use the historical data to predict backwards and figure out how much you need at every stage of the pipeline in order to hit your goals.

Turning around sales, profits, and the business overall

We ran lean so we could take cash out for personal needs. Recently, we’ve seen a significant drop in net income. Think we need to spend money to get things moving forward profitably, but we’re going to be short on cash. What should we do?

Thoughts of the Day: Building a successful business takes planning for good times and for bad. Focus on sales and marketing first. Look for quick turnaround opportunities to boost cash from existing work and customers. Going forward, remember that if you take care of the basics of the business, it will take care of you.

Using Shop Downtime to Your Advantage

At certain times of the year people in our shop aren’t working as much as we would like them to be. We want them to be busy. We have plenty of work year around. And it’s nice to have some downtime, but we don’t want people to get “soft” when things slow down. How can we best use the quite times?

Thoughts of the Day: Quiet times in the business are a great opportunity for reflection on what works well and what could be done better. Imagining the future is essential for any production that intends to stay profitable. Make time for training in order to upgrade skills and boost efficiency. Use the time to celebrate and prepare for what’s next.

Help Your Sales People Deliver Better Results

We’re getting business in, but I wonder how much more are we leaving on the table. We could be out in the field more to drive training with sales reps and managers. We’re struggling to put together sales rep training manual into a form that we can actually use to train people with. Once that’s built then I have to figure out who should be doing the training, and how to get it done efficiently and cost effectively. I’m not sure what the best way is to increase sales efforts by our sales team, and training for our sales people.

Thoughts of the Day: Training sales people to maximize their results is a smart place to start when looking at how to maximize your sales team. Creating a set of sales materials to conduct and reinforce training will help you be consistent when you’re training existing and new sales reps. A good place to start would be assess the needs of various people in the field, as they’re probably not all at the same stage of development. Work smarter, not harder – look for tools that already exist on the market and build on them. Be sure to measure before and after results to see what produces the best results.

Gain Control by Giving Up Control – trust your people, delegate

We have a lack of organization structure. Not everyone can be a manager. We might not recognize the candidate who can be a lead – and I’m not sure what a lead is, anyway. On the other hand, I can’t leave unless I give a list of things to do to people. They don’t take initiative to look around at what needs to be done. And when I come back half of stuff isn’t done and gets pushed back to me, and I get bombarded. What should I do?

Thoughts of the Day: Building organizational structure is one of the hallmarks of a stage 2 company. Figure out what you have to work with, and how best to organize that group of employees into more efficient units. Learn to delegate tasks and projects to teams. It’s important to make sure employees know where the company is headed, and the role they play in helping the business get there. Conduct regular meetings, and work with the teams to build a Next Action Steps List and review and discuss progress and hold ups.

Designing the future ownership of your business

Been having a lot of discussion lately about what the next generation of the business will look like. Who will run it, who will work in it, what kind of work we’ll be doing, and how we’re going to adapt to stay current. Wondering if you have any recommendations on what to consider, and how to go about planning for the future.

Thoughts of the Day: Thinking about the future is critical to ensuring success. Do a critical needs analysis. Make a plan that describes where the business goes next, and how it gets there. What problems are people trying to solve and how can you make things easier? Deal with the reality of limited workforce availability. Consider ESOP as a model for future ownership, if your company is strong enough.