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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Small Business Accounting Expert On Refocusing Right-Thinking For You and Your Team

Last week we talked about small business owners (perhaps like you) forgetting to “sell”.

You see, what I’ve found when working with my business owner clients in Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties and beyond is that when you focus on something enough, it becomes “big” and crowds out room for the truly big issues.

The client service coordinator focuses on moving the paper, getting the phone answered … and maybe focusing just as much on the person in the next room she doesn’t like, the chair that squeaks … and on and on.

We all need to be brought back to what’s important in business. Over and over.

It adds purpose to what we do. It’s also the magic ingredient that separates the good from the great.

And I’m here today to remind you (and perhaps your staff, now!) of it…

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Small Business Accounting Expert On Refocusing Right-Thinking For You and Your Team
“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character.” – Norman Schwarzkopf

What are the most important tasks in your business? Taking care of customers and growing revenue.

Add any trendy business philosophy you want on top of that, and it still gets down the same thing.

So … EVERYONE on your team should either be adding revenue or helping to control expenses. I suggest you (constantly) ask your staff — and yourself — what they can do to help:

1. Get more customers
2. Keep customers longer
3. Increase the amount of each transaction
4. Control expenses
5. Get more referrals
6. Get testimonials
7. Make operations more efficient

So, in that vein, here’s a discussion you can have at your next staff meeting:

* Review and discuss these 7 issues
* Ask everyone to write down the things that would help them do their job better (or obstacles that are in their way)
* Ask everyone to write down ideas for each of the 7 issues between now and the next staff meeting
* Review everyone’s first draft privately or as a group in your next staff meeting

Everyone in your business must be involved in growing revenue or controlling expenses. They must see their role in that part of the business. And YOU — the business owner — must keep that discussion alive and dynamic.

Good luck!

Again, I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … I just see what works, and I pass it on.

Feel very free forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Dale Hammernik’s Advice to Business Owners: Don’t Forget This!

There do seem to be some signs that our country’s economy is shaking off at least SOME of the doldrums. Despite all of the foreign policy chaos we’re seeing, domestically speaking stocks are high, confidence is steady, and though there are still plenty of reasons for concern, things could be improving in the Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area, as well.

But even with various items of good news, we’ve all still gotta plug the holes in our own houses.

And this economy is certainly revealing some “holes” in some of my friends’ and clients businesses, here in the Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area and beyond. Others are doing well, thriving even … but I want to say that discovering sales problems can be a healthy process, however painful — and certainly always worth it.

So I thought I would take this week’s Business Strategy Note to highlight some issues I’ve been seeing as I occasionally talk with friends and clients about their businesses…

Dale Hammernik’s Advice to Business Owners: Don’t Forget This!
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Thoreau

It’s always been hard-scrapping for small business owners. We’ve all heard the old adage: At least 85% and maybe as high as 98% of new small businesses fail before they hit the five year mark.

That rate may even have been higher over the past half-decade.

(So, by the way — not a bad reason to be proud; that you’re still riding this economy and haven’t given up yet. Don’t quit.)

Usually the “conventional wisdom”, especially among many accountants or service professionals in the financial arena, will tell you that the reason for that failure is “under-capitalization” and “poor fiscal management”.

But see, as a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties accounting professional, I can point you to businesses that have failed with enough money to do everything they needed to do ten times over. And yet still, some management consultant will tell you it’s “poor management ability”.

I suggest to you that what it is in most cases is that the business owner decided that once he or she was in business they were done needing to sell.

It’s amazing, but many people in many types of businesses believe they don’t have to sell. For example, most doctors believe that they don’t have to sell. There are a lot of restaurant owners who believe that. Incredibly, there’s a lot of retail store owners who believe that “we open the doors and the customers come to us,” and “we don’t have to ‘sell’ anyone.”

I think you see how dangerous that thinking is. It may not be “classic” cold-calling or prospecting … but can you really believe that the patient consultations with doctors aren’t a sales process?

You obviously have some method you use to promote your business or you wouldn’t even be in existence. But you probably only have one method or two methods or three methods that you use consistently. So a good way to add a boost to your bottom line is to increase the number of methods you use.

The more methods, the more business. As marketing legend Dan Kennedy says, “Diversity is the creative opposite of laziness.” So you need to think, “How can I use more methods to attract the right kind of people to do business with me — more than any other competitor will use?”

The more methods, the more business.

Hopefully that thinking process has begun to take place for you today. Again, I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … I just see what works, and I pass it on.

Feel very free forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Dale Hammernik’s Advice: Meet Less, Be More Productive

Are you like me? Because occasionally I find myself loathing “meetings”.

Working in business accounting, I know as well as anyone that they are absolutely necessary at times — and a business that NEVER has them probably won’t get on the same page with the frequency or alacrity that succeeding in 2014 (and beyond) now requires. It’s a fast-moving marketplace, folks.

But exactly because it’s so fast-moving out there, we simply must not allow the corporate culture of meetings and memos to rule over the advantage we carry as a smaller, more nimble Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties organization or business.

And even in the corporate culture, there is growing literature and advice about cutting down the wasteful environment of relentless meeting.

So here are a few guidelines I’ve put into place … let’s free ourselves from those additional, mindless obligations.

Dale Hammernik’s Advice: Meet Less, Be More Productive
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

In the spirit of what I’m writing about, this will be a quickie…

Three essential guidelines for taking control of meetings — and your time.

1) Determine whether you really are necessary to the meeting. Look at the agenda, or find out what the meeting is intended to accomplish. Ask yourself, “Do I actually get anything out of the meeting?” and “Do I actually contribute anything to the meeting?” If your answers are “no,” let meeting organizers know and find a way to avoid attending. Just do it.

2) Try to attend only part of the meeting. If the first part of a meeting is relevant to you, but the other half isn’t, find a way to skip the second half. Just do it, and let the chips fall.

3) Arrive on time–leave on time. Let meeting organizers know that you’ll be happy to attend the meeting but will only stay until the time stated. Then get there on time–and leave on schedule.

These may seem harsh, but your time is valuable. Respect yourself enough to treat it that way.

I’m grateful for our partnership, and dedicated to your success.

Feel very free forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Dale Hammernik’s Advice: Work Less, Be More Productive

I was inspired by all this talk of independence. I thought about my work here in the Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area, and the work of our business clients — and, well, I’m here to offer you a “Dale Hammernik” personal challenge, of sorts:

Take a day off this week.

One day more than you normally would. No email. No work texting. Heck, even turn the smart phone off completely — and see what happens.

Here’s why I’m issuing this challenge…

Dale Hammernik’s Advice: Work Less, Be More Productive
“To succeed in business it is necessary to make others see things as you see them.” – John H Patterson

In his book The 80/20 Manager, Richard Koch cites a fascinating experiment on the subject of “forced time off”:

“…(Boston Consulting Group) consultants were obliged to take one day and one evening off, during which time they were not allowed to use email or voice mail…I’m sure you can guess the results. The teams who were forced to take days and evenings off rated higher not just on work-life balance but on job satisfaction, learning, personal development and open communication within the teams. Moreover, their clients reported greater value delivery than the clients of the control groups. Empirical proofs that less really is more.

“I’m waiting for someone to have the courage to test what would happen if a team is forced to take off two days… then three, then four. Let’s see what happens when they work just one day and one evening each week. (page 174)

The Perlow & Porter experiment cited above hints at why this is so profoundly true for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties businesses. Faced with the constraint of having to take time off, the consultants at BCG suddenly found themselves having way more discussions about HOW work was being done and fewer conversations about WHAT work was being done.

“People were initially skeptical about spending so much time looking at work processes. But in the end, most teams found it helpful. The check-ins not only allowed teams to engage in explicit conversations about achieving their time-off goals, but they also sparked valuable discussions–involving the whole team–about priorities, expectations, and problems people were facing.

By contrast, in typical nonexperiment teams, consultants generally start talking about problems only when they are already overstressed and less able to think rationally or do much about them.”

Re-read that last sentence. The zero-constraint, always-on, smartphone-addicted lifestyle of the average Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area entrepreneur makes it LESS likely that you will think rationally about the strategic decisions you need to make in your business.

But forcing yourself to take time off, one evening a week, then one day a week and, yes, as Mr. Koch recommends, even 4 days a week, will force you to make clearer, more strategic decisions.

Working less = earning more.

It’s an equation that seems to violate everything we’ve been told about work … we’ve been told that you work your tail off, lay aside a bunch of cash and then SOMEDAY you’ll be able to work less.

FALSE. Does not compute.

Working less = earning more is an equation that I believe we all must embrace in the Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area if we want to take our businesses to the next level.

So, take one day off next week as a test. I wonder what would happen?

I’m grateful for our partnership and dedicated to your success.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890