Reading Between the Lines

16 hours ago

If you’re like most small business owners, these last few weeks have you more than a little worried about your bottom line. There’s not a business anywhere that’s unaffected by the recent pandemic.

But do you know what the REAL effect on your business is?

If you’re only looking at the bottom line, you’re not seeing the whole picture. Now’s the time to learn how to read between the lines at your financials so you can make good decisions about how, when and where to pivot to make sure your business thrives now and well into the future.

There’s a lot more going on in your business than a quick look at the Balance Sheet or the Profit and Loss statement can tell you.

Just because you’re paying the bills doesn’t mean you’re profitable. Look at your cash flow for the first quarter. If that trend keeps up, how long will you be able to keep things going?

All income is not created equal. Not every product and service has the same ratio of return on investment of your time and money. Where you can, do more of what brings the highest income for the lowest cost.

Is your niche growing or shrinking? Are your products or services facing a growing or shrinking demand? Focus on where the demand is and where it’s likely to be for the next 6-12 months.

Are there opportunities for you in the current climate? If you have an accurate picture of what it costs to deliver various products or services (and where the hidden costs lie), you can decide if it’s wise to say yes to new opportunities. Unless you can really assess the risk, you won’t know if the reward is worth pursuing.

Are there any surprises waiting for you? Look back at your cash flow, annual projections and actual year end results for the past several years. Are there ebbs and flows in revenue that you should anticipate this year? How accurate were you in forecasting your income and expenses in past years? If you consistently met or exceeded your projections, are your positioned to do that again? If you fell short, what do you need to adjust now to avoid an “oh, no!” moment at the end of the year?

Many of our clients come to us not knowing much about their financials beyond whether the bills are paid and the income line is growing. If that’s you, now’s the time to learn to read between the lines on your financial reports. Don’t leave it to the bookkeeper or CPA – they may not understand all the ins and outs of your business.

The numbers themselves only tell part of the story of your business. It’s what the numbers mean and how you get to those numbers that paints the real picture. And nobody knows that better than you.

Read between the lines, then…

Go forth and do great things,

Martha and Chris

Self Care During Social Distancing

April 1, 2020

Can we talk today about something different instead of a usual deep dive into strictly business-related stuff?

Because you’re already spending gobs of time working with customers in new, inventive, social-distancing ways and devoting chunks of time to figuring out the best way to work with your Team, not to mention digging, digging, digging to understand whatever life preserver the Federal Government is tossing small business owners.

Instead, let’s chat about something just as important as all of that, and perhaps you’ve been neglecting it.



Self care!

How you take care of yourself in these unusual times must rocket up your “to do” list.

I know…your “to do” list is already jammed.

However, you’ll run down your engine if you don’t care for yourself, and then you’ll have less to offer those you love and serve.

So here we go…

Get out of your sweat clothes!!!!!  Put on pants with a zipper and button.  You’ll instantly feel better and more professional.

Gentlemen, shave the two-or-three week old Coronavirus beard you’ve cultivated.  Let’s be honest…you don’t even like it!  A little less scruff with deliver a much more “can-do” attitude.

Ladies, how about ditching the bunny slippers.  You wouldn’t visit a new prospect in them in the good-old-days of a few weeks ago.  No one buys from someone in bunny slippers…unless you’re a slipper sales person.

Leave your house or office for a trip to your front porch or balcony.  Do it daily.  Fresh air and perhaps a little sunshine will help you fight disease and boost your mental attitude (and we could all use a little mental attitude boost right about now).

And my dog, Tally who you see above, highly, highly recommends a daily, short “snore meditation” session.  It boosts her physical ability to go out of her mind with enthusiasm when she sees neighbors. From a safe distance, of course.  We’re not encouraging you to lose your mind.  We are hinting for you to share your enthusiasm for the good things around you.

Please keep yourself healthy physically and mentally.  Wash your hands and yes, we’re all in this together.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams

P.S. If you are in the medical profession, associated with the grocery stores keeping us fat or the pizza delivery business making frequent visits to our neighborhoods, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Don’t Be Paralyzed – Pivot

March 25, 2020

You’ve heard about the Fight or Flight response to stress: the temptation to either run away, or to rage and resist.

There’s a third F in this scenario…and it’s one that we’re seeing a lot of small business owners adopt.

What’s the third F?  It’s Freeze.

With so much uncertainty all around, many people are tempted to hunker down, stay put, sit still and wait things out. To become paralyzed and keep from doing anything for fear of doing the wrong thing.

Now is not the time to fight, flee or freeze.

Instead, it’s time to PIVOT.

It’s a term you’ve probably heard a lot in the past couple of weeks…and for good reason. Being able to pivot is what will keep your business alive and vital while others are frozen in fear.

To pivot is to turn slightly around a central point. Our client Melissa is a great example.

Melissa runs a tutoring and educational support business. Her bread and butter is one-to-one tutoring and support in the school environment.

But now, school is out, maybe for the rest of the semester. Students Melissa and her team served at school are now at home with their families. All of them are facing a big change with classes now being delivered online instead of in the classroom

Here’s Melissa’s pivot – she is now offering online tutoring and support to her existing clients AND to homeschool families.

Her students get to see the familiar faces of their tutors, even if they can’t be in the same room. And families that have no idea how to help their kids with schoolwork get an extra boost.

What’s more, Melissa’s staff members keep their jobs and her business is still bringing in money.

Everybody wins because Melissa was able to PIVOT quickly.

Here are some quick tips for making a successful pivot:

  • Solve a problem –figure out what unique challenges are facing your customers right now and offer a creative solution…compile information and resources; offer a new way to connect; suggest a new way to do something.
  • Stick to your center – Make sure you keep to the core of your mission and values as you design your pivot. Remember that you are known, liked, and trusted for certain things and that’s what people will be looking for in this uncertain time.
  • Select a market segment –Not everyone in your target market will be the right consumer for your pivot. Get clear and specific about who will benefit most from your new product or perspective and focus your marketing to that group.
  • Serve, serve, serve – Of course, it’s a good mantra all the time, but it’s especially important in making a successful pivot. If you focus on serving your customer better through your pivot, they’ll appreciate you know and stick with you later.

Think creatively and do what Melissa did…pivot. It can lead to profit.

Go forth and do great things.

Martha & Chris

P.S. If you want to learn more about how to pivot in the current climate, join us for our new webinar series that lays it all out for you. It’s only $76 for 4 webinars. We start tomorrow.

Join here