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Business Growth

More Growth, More Profit Using Information You Already Have

Many small business owners struggle to maintain their company’s growth and increase their profitability. Something you may grapple with is understanding why something is not working – or even more importantly, what IS working that you should do more of.  Your financial statements may have the answers. But as my friend, Marty Croyle, knows from first hand experience working with hundreds of business owners during his career as a CPA, many business owners can’t make sense of their financials, and have even less understanding about how to use this information to influence their company’s strategic direction and to become more profitable.

As the business owner and CEO, you are great at running your business, but may not have received financial training. You know the bank wants to see your financials and you need them to do your taxes, but beyond that, you’re most concerned with keeping the cash flowing.  Marty recently launched the Croyle Financial Academy, and I hope you’ll consider taking some of your valuable time to attend. Through a combination of lecture, case studies, and discussions with other business owners, you’ll learn:

  • What is financial reporting and why do I ignore it?
  • Why isn’t my company more profitable?
  • How financially stable is my company?
  • If cash is king, why don’t I forecast cashflow?
  • Why data should my company be measuring (metrics and key performance indicators)?
  • Where is my company headed (budget overview)?
  • How do I improve my profitability and cash flows?
  • I’d like to sell my company for top dollar some day – how are profitability and sale price linked?

The time you spend at Croyle Financial Academy will help you generate more cash flow today, and more value tomorrow. Get more information, as well as a free eBook titled “How to Overcome The 5 Reasons CEOs Ignore Their Financials” at https://www.croylefinancial.com/. Don’t wait! The next session starts in early November, and is sure to sell out.

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2017 XPX New England Summit – May 4th

I hope you will plan to join me, along with almost 200 business owners and their advisers at Waltham Woods in Waltham, MA on May 4th at 8:00 am for this year’s XPX New England Summit:

FLEXIBLE & INTENTIONAL TRANSITIONS

Keeping Your Business FIT in Uncertain Times

Karyn Polito, Massachusetts’ lieutenant governor, will kick us off at 8:00 am, addressing how the current political environment can impact your business growth. Following the lieutenant governor’s presentation, we have a variety of local CEOs and experts addressing topics related to growing business value, and insights into sale and other transition options.

  • Sean Kavanagh, the CEO of The Ariel Group, will speak about “FALL RISK: How my nearly fatal bicycle accident changed the way I run my life and my business.”
  • Kathy Berardi, the Founder of Imugen will discuss the challenges faced and overcome during the various stages of Imugen’s 27-year life, with particular emphasis on the business and personal decisions and emotions experienced in the process of selling the company and life in the post-acquisition period.
  • A panel of CEOs and HR experts will discuss “The Leader-Leader Model for Fast Growth Companies” and how talent acquisition and retention works in hyper growth businesses.
  • The CEO of J&G Foods will share how they transitioned from breakeven to 5x value over two years.
  • A panel of CEOs of business services companies will discuss “Leveraging Intangible Assets to Increase Business Value.”
  • Another panel will share insights on what you can do “When Corporate Transformation and Culture Clash.”
  • Rob Waldron, the CEO of Curriculum Associates, will share the story of how he and his team transformed a traditional educational publishing company into a digital publishing powerhouse through hiring the right people, having shared values and a philanthropic culture to grow the business value and make possible one of the most unique business transitions you’ll ever hear of.
  • NEW THIS YEAR: Live CEO Case Studies.  Three participating CEOs will showcase their company and a challenge they are facing.  Each CEO will have a panel of the best experts in the field assigned to them who will have been briefed on the issues at hand and come prepared with questions and ideas.  You will be privileged to listen in on the conversation, ask questions and make suggestions of your own.  At the culmination of the three sessions, each CEO will share what actions they will take based on the dialogue they participated in.  Currently, Howard Goldman, CEO of Humboldt Storage & Moving and Wendy Foster, President and CEO of Big Brother Big Sister of Massachusetts Bay have committed to participate – but there’s still room for one more!  Let me know immediately if you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity.

This event generally sells out early, so please register today at https://exitplanningexchange.com/event-2287859/Registration.  See you at the Summit!

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Doing Well By Doing Good – Part 2

After noticing on a box of King Arthur Flour that it was a B Corporation, I did some research to understand exactly what that is.  Here’s what I found at bcorporations.net:

Interesting… I was taught in business school that the purpose of every business is to maximize shareholder value.  But according to Isaiah 58 (see my previous post), and apparently a larger and larger group of businesses around the world, maybe we’ve had it all wrong for all these years.

The B Lab is a non-profit organization that developed the B Impact Assessment and B Analytics to enable B corporations to measure their impact—and the impact of the businesses with whom they work—with as much rigor as their profits.  Every year, they publish several lists of the “Best” B corporations, which you can find here.

On the “Best Overall” list, I found a number of New England companies that span a wide variety of industries, including:

W.S. Badger Co. – a manufacturer of natural body care products located in Gilsum, New Hampshire.

South Mountain Company – an employee-owned design/build firm on Martha’s Vineyard.

Imajine That – an interactive children’s museum in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Trillium Asset Management – an employee-owned investment management firm with over $2 billion in assets under management, focused on socially responsible investing, and headquartered in Boston.

Prosperity Candle – a marketer of candles made by women who have recently resettled from refugee camps and are working to build a brighter future for themselves and their families in the United States.  Prosperity candle is headquarter in Easthampton, MA.

One Earth Designs – the manufacturer of the SolSource Solar Grill, located in Massachusetts.

Atayne – a manufacturer and marketer of outdoor and athletic apparel based in Brunswick, Maine.

Alternatively, or sometimes in conjunction with being a certified B corporation, 30 states (including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont) let you organize your company as a benefit corporation, a new legal tool to create a solid foundation for long term mission alignment and value creation. It protects mission through capital raises and leadership changes, creates more flexibility when evaluating potential sale and liquidity options, and prepares businesses to lead a mission-driven life post-IPO.  One of the requirements in every state is that all benefit corporations are required to create a benefit report annually. These transparency provisions serve not only to inform the public about the overall social and environmental performance of the benefit corporation, but also to inform directors so they are better able to meet their duties and shareholders so they are better able to exercise their rights.  You can read more about benefit corporations here.

So get out there – as you think about the strategic plan for your business in 2017 and beyond, maybe it’s time to start planning not just how to grow revenues and profits, but also how you can be the change you want to see in the world.

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Doing Well By Doing Good – Part 1

One day last week, I saw the following verses from Isaiah 58 (The Message version) show up in my Facebook news feed:  “To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—law-abiding, God-honoring. They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ and love having me on their side. But they also complain, ‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’ Well, here’s why: The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. …Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after…? … This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.“

I found this thought provoking, as I try to be a successful business person while living a life as a Christian.  At the moment, I don’t have any employees to drive too hard, but I have in the past, and did try to treat them as these verses suggest.  That included being careful of their welfare – if it’s going to be a snow day, let’s all work from home, rather than driving on treacherous roads; not asking them to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself; respecting them and their efforts; compensating them fairly for the work they accomplished. And don’t miss the last phrase “being available to your families.”  It’s very difficult when you’re the boss to turn it off and focus on your family!

Interesting enough, later that day, I was taking some time off in my kitchen, baking biscuits from scratch for a “breakfast for dinner” that our church was serving that night at a local soup kitchen, and as I was absent mindedly kneading the dough, I noticed on the side of the King Arthur Flour box a promotional blurb about their status as a certified B Corporation, and how that means they’re not just focused on profits, but also on taking care of all their stakeholders – employees, customers, community.  Sounded related to the verses I’d read that morning in Isaiah 58, so I decided to do more research to learn what a B corporation is.

Next week, I’ll share with you what I learned.  But in the meantime, perhaps you want to think about whether your focus as a business person is on the right things – is it just bottom line profit, or are there other stakeholders that you should be considering?

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From the Outside In – The Buyer’s Perspective on Business Value

Have you ever wondered how a buyer would look at your company? What’s important to them? What convinces them to pay more for your company than for your competitor? Now is your chance to get some insight into those very questions.

I’m the President of the Boston Chapter of the Exit Planning Exchange, and on April 28th we’re holding our flagship event, the XPX Summit, at Waltham Woods Conference Center in Waltham, MA. Our mission as an organization is that “Every owner creates a business with sustainable and transferable value.” The 2016 XPX Summit supports this mission by providing a full day of valuable education focused on building business value.

Keynotes include Christopher Oddleifson, the CEO of Rockland Trust, who will join a conversation about hands-on buyers’ experience evaluating potential acquisitions, due diligence on lessons learned, successfully integrating “new comers” to the Rockland Trust culture and how these lessons may apply to privately held businesses. Caleb White, an 8th generation family owner of Ensign-Bickford, will not only chronical EBI’s successful sale of its legacy business and its transformation to a more balanced portfolio of manufacturing companies, but will also outline three keys to survival across 180 years and 8 generations of ownership. Dr. Daniel Korschun, co-author of We Are Market Basket will share his firsthand accounts of what he and co-author Grant Welker learned from the streets and executive suites as they studied and documented the unprecedented Market Basket story while it erupted and unfolded during the summer of 2014. He will address the impact of leadership and culture on the success and resilience of an extended family business.

We also have a great selection of breakout sessions, including:

  • Are You Getting in Your Own Way?
    How to Increase Your Business’ Value by Reducing its Reliance on You, the Owner
  • When You Get to a Fork in the Road, Take it!
  • Will Unlimited Vacation Time and Allowing Dogs in the Workplace Increase the Value of Your Business?
  • Leaving My Business – On My Timetable, To My Ideal Successor, and At My Price

 

I hope you’ll decide to join us. You can find more information and register at Exit Planning Exchange 2016 Summit.

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