What Cash Flow?

By not doing a business plan with a well thought out cash flow projection, many otherwise good business ideas fail early in the game.  Even a simple business such as lawn mowing needs to give thought to their cash flow projections.  Sure, they have a truck, a lawn mower, and a rake, but what happens when the season ends or when the lawn mower breaks down?  What do they have to fall back on?

A good business plan identifies projected income, planned expenses, and an allotment for maintenance.  To do this an entrepreneur needs to identify these three financial needs; business start-up, ongoing business expenses, and personal financial needs.  This will identify what the business requires to provide for the business and entrepreneur to succeed and thrive.

The business may be seasonal or at least be affected by seasonal holidays and events.  It is important to be able to forecast these and have a plan ‘B’.  This can be in the form of savings, line of credit, availability of a loan, or perhaps a rich aunt.  Unplanned expenses can be the death knell for businesses that are under funded and have no resource to draw on to get through the rough patches.

Doing due diligence through good research will give the needed information as a base for the projections.  These projections provide the stats for the business plan.  Although good research was done the figures likely will not be accurate.  The business plan is a living document, one to monitor and adjust through the first year.  The actual financial records form the basis for planning for the second year.

The difference between projected and actual will show the cash flow for the business and the monthly trends.  It will also expose the ‘hidden’ costs associated with the business so better planning can be done.

Cash is King!  Plan well and have a plan ‘B’!

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Posted in Business Coaching, Business Planning, Community Futures, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Entrepreneurs, Sales, self-employment | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coaching, Team Building

Why have teams?

For years, many industries, operated as a dictatorship.  Their words were law and you either did what you were told, or you looked for other employment.  Management ignored the fact that successful competitors were taking a different approach.  To try and ‘catch the wave’, some bought the books, provided the ‘uniforms’, and declared, “We are a team”.  Unfortunately, they did little else to ensure that the process worked and, as a result, in their eyes, the experiment failed.

Teams are not arbitrary employees chosen to suddenly work together and produce results.  To have a successful team you must understand the dynamics of the members and be prepared to empower them.  This means, as a manager, relinquishing control of some aspects of the business.

Why would you do this?

To begin with the only people who truly know a job are the people who are doing it.  Have they ever been asked for their input on how to would do it differently to improve the product or service?  If they have, was there a process in place to follow through with the suggestions and show the employees that their input was taken seriously.

The first error!

The assumption in business that the employees only want to put in their eight hours and collect their paycheque.  This is a fallacy.  For every employee who thinks this way there are twenty who take pride in the work they do.  Think about it, your employees spend almost as much time each week working as they do with their families.  Why wouldn’t they care?

The second error!

We expect employees to care about the company and to give it the same respect and dedication that we do as mangers and owners.  Yet, in many cases, we don’t tell them what the company’s goals are.  How many widgets are we going to produce?  What net profits does the business want on the books at the year end?  In the way of sales, what needs to come through the door each day for the business to survive?
Many business owners are reluctant to share this information with their employees.  Why wouldn’t you?  How is the employee going to focus on your target if they don’t know what it is?  We must share our goals and expectations.  We must enroll everyone in those goals and expectations if we hope to achieve them.

The third error!

Our employees walk the front lines.  They have the knowledge to produce a good or bad product or service.  If they perceive we don’t care about quality, chances are what they do will be poor quality as usually it is easier to do.  If they know how many widgets need to be produced to earn the desired profit margin, the quality required to meet your standards, and are give recognition when they achieve this, they will feel valued and will offer suggestions. Don’t ignore them, they are a valuable resource!

The fourth error!

Many times, managers assume the person is trained or training is provided when the employee starts and that is it.  You need to constantly ‘grow’ your employees. You need to nurture them, not just in hard skills but also in people or ‘soft’ skills.  Your employees do not work in isolation.  They work as part of a team.  If the team does not function, you are at a competitive disadvantage.

Allow opportunities for your employees to develop their personal skills.  They will take this home and to their other activities throughout the community.  If your employees feel good about themselves, they will carry this forward to their job and to their lives.

When in the community, your employees talk about where they work.  What are they saying about you?

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Posted in Business Coaching, Business Planning, Career development, Coaching, Diversity, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Employment, Empowering people, Entrepreneurs, Human resources, Leadership, Team development, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Entrepreneurship

You have an idea.  You envision a need.  What more do you need in order to become a successful entrepreneur?

The idea or ‘spark’ is important and usually begins with the identification of an opportunity or need.  For many entrepreneurs this usually goes through much internal refining and tweaking before ever hitting a piece of paper.  An opportunity may be that the product or service is not yet available in their community.  A need might be that they require different employment because of finances or perhaps health issue which prevents them from continuing with their current career.

Who is going to buy the product or service you intend to market? What are the demographics of the purchaser and the market you are serving?  Is it a discretionary product or service?  Where do your potential customers or clients get it now?  What will you charge?  What is the competition charging?  Who is the competition?  Why will your customers or clients come to you for the product or service?  What is your unique selling proposition?

Where will you be located?  Is it convenient for you and your target market?  How will your customers or clients find you?  How will you reach them?  Where would you find your customers or clients, radio, newspaper, trade shows, flyers, bulletin boards, social media, web-page?  These all take money or time, or both, which ones will serve you best?

How will you track your progress?  Do you have a business plan?  This will provide a baseline for the business.  It is a living document, which gives you a record to monitor your progress and ‘adjust your sails’ during the launch of the business.

What do you need in the way of funding for the business?  Financial needs are made up of start-up costs, ongoing business costs, plus what you need to sustain your personal expenses.  If you don’t have the money, where will you get it?  Do you have personal assets for collateral on a loan?

One of the most important documents is a cash flow spreadsheet.  This tells you what has to come into the business for it to stay viable.  Many businesses have lots of assets but if they do not have adequate cash flow, the business will not sustain itself.

You might have a solid idea, but my advice is to get assistance in setting up the business and start on a solid footing.  Contact your nearest WorkBC Employment Centre as you may qualify for an assistance program and if not, your local Community Futures Office will be only too glad to help.

We need entrepreneurs, but more than that, we need successful entrepreneurs!

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Posted in Business Coaching, Coaching, Communication, Community Futures, Customers, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Entrepreneurs, self-employment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Year 2019!

The end of another year!  Hopefully, 2018 brought beautiful memories to you and yours.

For 2019, I wish you;

  • Health
  • Happiness
  • Friends to last a lifetime, and
  • Love to fill your heart

Laurence Rumming Assessments

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Christmas on the Coast

Here on the coast we have been enjoying milder than usual weather in the late fall with only a few days of frost.  The November rains didn’t really materialize and then decided to put on a show in December with some torrential downpours!

The one thing we were not really expecting was the windstorms that accompanied the rain.  We seldom get winds in excess of 100 km/hour and when we do, there is usually a lot of damage to power lines due to falling trees.

The storm that hit on Thursday was no exception, snapping unsuspecting fir trees like twigs and uprooting others.  The lack of power throughout Vancouver Island created havoc with Christmas shoppers with many stores without power and traffic snarled with traffic lights out of commission.

Two days after the storm, 120,000 homes on Vancouver Island were still without power and for many, it will be a few days more.  Amid all of this chaos we must be grateful.  Yes, we were cold and uncomfortable, ferries and flights were cancelled or delayed causing havoc with Christmas travel but only one life was lost due to the storm.  Many houses were damaged, some beyond repair.

We had hydro crews working around the clock in anything but pleasant weather, neighbours came out to assist, offering food and shelter for those affected.  It forced us off of the electronics as internet connections were gone with the lack of power and charging the devices was an issue.  It created solitude, a time to reflect and to interact, perhaps with those with whom we seldom make the time.

I am grateful for the time with my wife, in front of the fire, laughing at ourselves, bundled up like Eskimos trying to stay warm. Also grateful to our good friends who invited us to their house, which had power, for company and a meal.  A bit of Introvert heaven.

I was not looking forward to Christmas this year.  There is nothing I want or need for myself.  This weather diversion created Christmas for me, gifting me what was important.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas.  I hope that everyone finds their Christmas, whatever its gift looks like for you.

As always, feel free to share this post giving credit to the author.

Posted in Communication, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Family, Internet, Life coaching, Lifestyle, Managing stress, Relationships, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dependence on Technology

As I sit here staring at a computer that cannot connect remotely with my work because of a server issue, I am reminded of our dependence on technology in business and in our everyday lives.  My I-pad somewhat functions as it can connect to the office internet provider but gives me only limited access as it is a different provider.  I can receive emails, but not send.  My cell phone can connect to the outside world via LTE but, unfortunately, not to my work.

For me, not a great inconvenience, but for my clients who need to send reports to me, it is a great inconvenience and may delay some important happenings in their lives, like getting paid this week!  I can find things to do but it is frustrating.  I thought I would print some labels but, MS word is through the server, which is down.

Business is not as lucky.  When technology goes down, they suffer.  They can lose sales when the card scanners go down and they become a cash only merchant until it is up again.  Who carries cash?  If their tills go down, many are essentially out of business.  Tills may be down with their inventory tracking systems not functioning. It may just be a monitor or computer dying.

If power goes down you may lose security systems and all technology.  Even if it is light in the building, sales cannot be made effectively without technology.  In some cases, clerks are reliant on the till telling them the change and would be challenged to do so on their own.  Many of the phone switchboards only have one phone that is live when there is a loss of power.

So if you are in business, what have you put in place in case you lose the technology you have come to depend on?  If it is a monitor or computer, do you have spares you can set up?  When the big earthquake hit San Francisco a number of years ago, there were businesses that went broke because just about every monitor was broken falling off the desks and there was not an adequate supply to replace them.  Can you devise a back-up system that will give you the ability to operate without the technology?

I would like to say that things will get better, but as we get more and more reliant on the use of technology, we will be more at its mercy!

Be careful with the use of technology in business.  Use what makes life easier and is cost effective but do not employ it just because it is new and exciting.  Put in place a simple work-around for the essential functions of your business so that you are still able to operate.

As always, feel free to share this post giving credit to the author.

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Have I Become the Grinch?

I am so not into Christmas this year!  I can’t seem to get excited about it.  It has lost its meaning – a time to celebrate the birth of Christ.  It is now a time to worship the coming of Santa, and retail.

I am not religious, but respect the celebration by the Christian faith.  I was raised with the story of Christ, but many, who celebrate Christmas by putting up a tree and spending money they don’t have for gifts they don’t need, know nothing of the story.  Some are not even of the Christian faith!

We are three weeks from Christmas and the stores are packed with shoppers and the mall lots are jammed with cars.  This is certainly good for retail as this is a time that either makes them or breaks them.

But back to me.  I have reached the stage in my life when I don’t need anything and, if I do, I go and get it.  I don’t need more things!  I realize that makes it difficult for those giving me gifts as I don’t have a list for them.  It also colours my gift-giving this year as I am having difficult seeing what others really need that I am supposed to buy for.

My focus has been shifting in the last few years to those who are truly in need, not of the trivial gifts, but of the necessities of life.  I would sooner see food on the table of a family in need than receive a gift I don’t need.

Maybe volunteering to make up hampers on Boxing Day will restore my Christmas Spirit.

As always, feel free to share this post giving credit to the author.

 

 

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