Posts by Chris Roush, CPA:
- An attorney
- An accountant
- A banker
- Experts in Marketing, HR and/or IT
- Other successful entrepreneurs from other industries
- Potential customers
A Business Advisory Board Can Help
It’s not uncommon for small business owners or CEO’s to feel like there is no one they can turn for help, advice or validation.
Fortunately, a business advisory board can help. Business leaders who consult an advisory board not only gain camaraderie, they gain ready access to experts in a variety of fields, such as marketing, sales, financing, and others. Not to mention a valuable multi-perspective approach to your day-to-day managerial duties.
Business Success Is A Team Effort
Not ready to commit to utilizing a business advisory board in all aspects of your business? That’s fine. Start small instead. Many successful boards are originally formed with a very specific goal in mind – such as the implementation of a new strategic plan.
And you don’t always have to look exclusively outside of your business for help. Consider tapping members of your management team for specific organizational reports. Each advisory board meeting could begin with members of your management team providing updates on assigned areas, such as finances, operations/production, human resources, IT, and sales & marketing. This portion of the meeting will ensure that everybody is on the same page and will encourage your management team to buy into the advisory process. Later in your meeting, set aside time to speak confidentially with your advisory team. Doing so will provide everyone with the opportunity to speak candidly.
Say ‘No’ To ‘Yes-Men’
If you don’t trust the members of your advisory board, the initiative will not be effective. You need to go into advisory board meetings ready and willing to share sensitive information about the business, as well as personal information about yourself. If you don’t trust your board, you are unlikely to tell them everything they need to know to provide you with the best advice possible. Your board should consist of the following experts:
Optimally, you should try to keep the group small and close-knit. More than six advisors on your board are not recommended as the productivity of the team is likely to take a hit.
Know Your Limitations
Excellent leaders seek out excellent advisors and the best advisors for your business are those who fill knowledge gaps within your company. They will also not be afraid to share their opinions and offer differing perspectives. You may not always like what they have to say, but you will be a better leader for hearing it. You can’t do everything and you can’t be an expert on every topic or every issue that comes across your desk. But an advisory team will help you get there.
Even though advisory boards are more informal than boards of directors, it’s important to set expectations and ground rules on any time expectations, responsibilities and duration of service. Consider a written document outlining your board’s responsibilities and logistics, such as meeting frequency, expected time commitment and compensation, if any. Quarterly meetings as a group with individual meetings as needs arise is a good framework.
Remember, your business advisory board does not have authority to make business decisions; it will offer advice that you can either take or dismiss. Speak frankly about your business goals are and explain that you don’t expect them to take on an active management role or assume any liability for your company or for the advice they offer. Providing written indemnification for each participant is appropriate.
The advisory board experience should be interesting and beneficial for all involved. Being on your board will expose members to new ideas and perspectives, and also offers mentoring, networking and social opportunities that make the experience worthwhile. At the very least, you should cover any expenses members incur to attend meetings, and provide meals when you get together. You could also consider a per-meeting fee that might range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on commitment.
Email Rea & Associates to learn more ways a business advisory board can help you become a better business leader.
By Chris Roush, CPA (Millersburg office)
Are you looking for more insight into the effectiveness of a business advisory board? Check out these articles.
As the driving force behind your company’s growth and success you have undoubtedly spent countless hours and dollars strategizing, networking and juggling a laundry list of managerial responsibilities. But your effort has paid off – today, you are praised for your work and are regarded as a leading entrepreneur within your industry. But maybe it feels like you have only begun to scratch the surface and that your business is long overdue for a growth spurt. While these are great challenges to have in the business world, if you are spending all your time in the office instead of hitting the pavement, it could seem like your ability to expand further is simply unattainable.
If only there were more hours in the day!
Throughout my career I have had the pleasure of working with many successful business owners. And while these men and women possess the skills, expertise and leadership traits essential for success in their respective industries, they have all learned that they are not immune to getting caught up in day-to-day managerial distractions. It can happen to anybody and before you know it you are caught up in a fruitless, energy-sapping, time-consuming headache that hurts your effectiveness as a business leader and prevents your company from achieving the growth and revenue you know it is capable of.
When that happens, it’s time to stop what you are doing, take a step back and reassess your organizational development strategy.
Step Away From Your Business – An Intervention – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
Work On Your Business, Not In It
“[The] executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there,” says Jim Collins in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … And Others Don’t. “No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.”
In other words, if you want to continue to grow a successful company, you can’t do it alone. While this advice may sound cliché, your ability to develop a strong organizational structure is directly responsible for your company’s long-term success. But it’s not easy and getting “the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off)” has been the single hardest objective for some of the most talented business owners. But once you are able to achieve this step, you will finally be able to maximize your time and talent by working on your business, instead of in your business.
How To Lead Your Business By Developing Your Organization
- First you must understand that organizational development is a never-ending process. To get started, develop a formal organizational chart and take time to identify “the right people” to effectively fill the top positions on your chart. To aid in the flexibility and evolution of your business’s organizational development, consider forming an advisory board to bring outside objectivity to the process.
- Next, step away from the daily grind of running your business. It’s time to be the business leader you’ve always wanted to be. Join organizations, attend events, and talk to other leaders about your business, your industry and your role in the world. Doing so will help you earn respect and influence throughout your community.
- Once you put some distance between yourself and the day-to-day grind of your company, you will be able to lead your company more objectively. This is an ideal time to observe your current organizational structure and brainstorm strategies to help you achieve your future success with your inner circle. Just make sure that those who make up your inner circle are not like you, will tell you the truth, will add value to you and your organization and are willing to have crucial conversations.
- Now that you have solidified your role as a business leader, it’s time to empower those in your organization to take ownership of the company and their place in it. This includes giving them the ability to make decisions while supporting and encouraging them and demonstrating your willingness to follow their lead.
- One of the most critical responsibilities of a business leader is planning for the future of your company. How will you transition your business once it is time to retire? What should you do now to ensure your company’s longevity? Do you know how much your business is actually worth? In order to protect your most important investment, your business, it is important to thoroughly understand the value of your business and develop a plan for its continued growth.
Starting your business is hard; growing your business is even harder. You will make mistakes. When you do get it wrong,act swiftly to make the necessary changes.
Maximize your time and talent. Email Rea & Associates today to learn more growth and development tips for your business. I won’t say that we have seen it all, but we have certainly seen a lot.
By Mike Taylor, CPA (Millersburg office)
Will the lack of internal control procedures result in the untimely demise of your business or organization? Studies show that if you don’t take action against fraudulent behavior today, tomorrow could be too late. The term “fraud” covers a lot of ground and includes actions that ultimately affect the accuracy of your financial statements. In fact according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), entities without internal control procedures are more likely to make errors on their financial statements and more likely to be victims of fraud, which is why it is so important for you to protect your business or organization with procedures that ensure accuracy and reliability of these records.
“The presence of anti-fraud controls is associated with reduced fraud losses and shorter fraud duration. Fraud schemes that occurred at victim organizations that had implemented any of several common anti-fraud controls were significantly less costly and were detected much more quickly than frauds at organizations lacking these controls” (ACFE, 2014).
Improve Accuracy, Eliminate Fraud
When you implement internal control components into your management strategy, you not only deter fraudulent behavior, you help improve the overall quality of your financial statements, which could result in improved transparency, fewer external audit findings and even additional growth and sustainability. Start establishing internal controls today by incorporating these five components into your daily business or organizational activities.
- Control environment – There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to setting the tone of your business or organization, all eyes are on you. Employees, volunteers, management and even the general public are more likely to “walk the walk” AND “talk the talk” if they see that you hold them and yourself to the same expectations. When leaders demonstrate a good ethical and moral framework, appear to be approachable about all issues and a commitment to excellence, nearly everybody takes notice and adjusts their behavior accordingly. It also helps to develop a rapport with your management team to encourage engagement throughout all levels of leadership.
- Risk assessment – Whether formal or informal, a risk assessment is critical to the process of identifying areas in which errors, misstatements or potential fraud is most likely to occur. By conducting a thorough risk assessment, you can identify which control activities to implement.
- Control activities – The best way to safeguard your business or organization is to segregate duties. This means that you should have different employees managing different areas of the company’s accounting responsibilities. When you put one person in charge of your accounting process you are freely giving them the opportunity to alter documents or mismanage inventory – and it’s a clear indication that you have weak internal controls. Dividing the work among your other employees is critical to the checks and balances of your company or organization. It’s also a good idea to develop procedures for recording, posting and filing documentation. Here are a few activities to get you started:
- Reconcile bank statements.
- Require documentation with expense reports.
- Match invoices with the goods and services you received prior to paying off your accounts payable balances.
- Make sure the person who has access to your business assets is different from the person responsible for the accounting of those assets, which will establish a form of checks and balances.
- Information and communication – Providing your employees with information about the internal control process and the resources available to them is a critical component to your success and the overall success of the internal control activities. In fact, simply knowing there are certain controls in place to promote accuracy and prevent fraud is enough to stop problems before they even start.
- Monitoring activities – Your job doesn’t end at the implementation of your internal control procedures; in fact, it’s just beginning. For your internal controls to work (and work well) you must establish your monitoring activities – and monitor frequently. Establishing internal controls is great, but they will have no effect if you neglect to monitor them. Furthermore, your internal controls should grow with your business or organization to ensure their long-term effectiveness.
Risk management and internal controls are necessary for the long-term success of every business and organization and a financial statement audit is a great way to provide you with insight into the internal controls of your organization or business. This kind of review structure can potentially reveal problems you didn’t even know were there – including fraud. But what if you are not planning on conducting an audit on your financial statements this year? Another option could be to work with a CPA who can help you document an understanding of the design and effectiveness of your internal control policies as a way to reassess your current strategies and identify areas for improvement. Email Rea & Associates to find out what options are available and how internal controls can put a stop to fraud in the workplace.
By Christopher A. Roush, CPA (Millersburg office)
You want the best for your business, so it only makes sense that you surround yourself with like-minded individuals. As a business owner it’s important to get support from business advisors who have expertise in specific areas to help you make your business successful. Your CPA plays a critical role for you, but don’t forget about the others. It’s also important to cultivate relationships with a business attorney and business banker.
Your CPA can make sure that you have systems to capture and report timely, reliable financial information and, if needed, even provide assurance regarding your financial statements. A good attorney can help safeguard your business assets and provide assistance in drafting agreements, contracts and other legal proceedings. A business banker can provide lines of credit or loans to help meet the cash flow needs of your business.
The Importance of Your Banking Relationship
Strong banking relationships are built over time through regular two-way communication. You should be well-versed in upcoming cash needs, such as expanding inventory or the increased needs of personnel cost, and communicate these to your banker. As you keep them informed of business decisions and trends, this helps to build a lender’s confidence in your ability to manage your business. A well-informed and communicative business owner may be given extra consideration when business financial issues arise.
Four Key Indicators That Help Bankers Evaluate Your Ability To Repay
Banking is a low-risk industry and they have one major concern when lending money: your repayment. They evaluate your ability to repay based on these four areas:
- Cash Flow – This is a key indicator of your ability to repay the original loan. If you have strong cash flow, the chances are high that you are able to repay your loan.
- Collateral – When a loan is originated, it’s never the goal for the loan to be foreclosed on and collateral seized, but it is required as security.
- Credit – Another key indicator is your credit history and track record of your past ability and willingness to fulfill prior financial obligations. If you have a good credit score, you’ll be given more favorable treatment in both the receipt of a loan and the amount of interest charged.
- Character – Your relationship with your banker allows them to consider your integrity. It’s critical to let your actions meet or exceed the expectations your words establish on a regular basis.
A good business banker is your advocate – they’re in your corner. Like CPAs, business bankers are exposed to multiple businesses and industries and they can be a great sounding board for ideas and help you strategize on ways to reach your financial objectives.
Business Relationship Help
Need to round out your business advisory team? Contact Rea & Associates. We can provide accounting services and business consulting services to your business, but we can also connect you to other business professionals that can help you complete your business advisory team.
Author: Chris Roush, CPA (Millersburg office)
Looking for more information on how to strengthen your business? Check out these blog posts:
If you run a manufacturing business, then you know it’s no easy task. You may often find that the day-to-day activities become your focus. It can be hectic, time-consuming and physically and emotionally draining. These issues can take away from your ability to focus on actually growing your business. It can be a “Catch 22” because if you aren’t building the right organizational structure, then the day-to-day activities continue to consume your time and before you know it, you’ll become like a cat chasing your tail.
Going From ‘Good to Great’
In the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, he touches on this very issue. He says, “The executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there. No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.”
Many closely-held business owners struggle to grasp this concept. In my experience, if you want to grow a successful company and have a reasonable quality of life, you must get your arms around your organizational structure. For individuals who don’t, your company probably won’t reach its potential and you may spend most of your time working in your business and not on it.
Building Your Organization May Require Tough Choices
In my career I have worked with many companies that have had a difficult time building their organization. It’s not easy and you won’t always get it right. When you get it wrong you must move swiftly to make the necessary changes. Most of us know when we have the wrong person in the wrong position, but we just procrastinate in making a change. Making the right move is critical for building an organization, even when it’s a tough choice.
Maximize your time and talents – and the time and talents of your employees. But know that it can’t be done without the right people around you. Make sure you have a solid management team surrounding you that can help you move your business in the direction you want it to go.
Author: Mike Taylor, CPA (Millersburg office)
Are you interested in reading more blog posts about managing your business? Check these ones out:
Do you realize that your business’s financial statements are a valuable management tool for decision making? You may be thinking, “Well, I just get them done because the bank needs them for my loan file,” or, “I think I have a copy in a drawer somewhere.” But if you take the time to understand your financial statements, you’ll be surprised to find that they can give you information on the condition of your company and allow you to make better business decisions. Read the rest of this entry “
Internal controls are procedures that companies develop to safeguard their assets and to produce accurate, reliable financial statements. When a company doesn’t have strong internal control procedures, fraud can occur much easier. Other issues that can arise include inaccurate financial statements, the inability to find certain documents such as invoices or purchase orders, or a higher than usual number of customer complaints. Read the rest of this entry “
You may find that being your own boss is extremely rewarding. Starting a business from the ground up takes a lot of hard work, and you’ve been seeing the fruits of your labor. But your success doesn’t come without challenges. Business owners are facing some tough challenges these days, and you yourself may be experiencing some of these growing pains. Here’s a list of the top 5 challenges I’m seeing business owners like yourself facing in today’s economy. Do any of these resonate with you?
Big GAAP vs. Little GAAP has been a hot topic in recent years. (Okay, “hot” topic may be a stretch…) The question of the hour is: Why should a privately held company with close relationships to owners, bankers, insurers and other financial statement users need to comply with the same complex rules and extensive disclosure requirements that a publicly traded company is held to? Read the rest of this entry “
Inventory management can have a very direct impact not only on your profit but also the cash flow of your business. Inaccurate inventory will directly affect your business profit. If the inventory is too high, you may be paying tax on higher profits than you actually have. If it is too low, you run the risk of understating taxable income and, if audited, the IRS can hit you with back taxes and penalties. Read the rest of this entry “
Could you be charging more for your products or services? Every smart business owner is continually analyzing people costs and product and market profitability. Read the rest of this entry “
Private companies have a once in a lifetime opportunity to express their concerns to standards setters that private company financial reporting is far different from publicly traded ones – and as a result financial reporting standards should be created and governed by an independent private company board. Read the rest of this entry “
Developing a credit record for your business that is separate from your personal credit record is important as your business grows. It can lead to lower rates on loans and leases as well as protect your personal credit record. The Better Business Bureau offers these tips to establishing business credit. Read the rest of this entry “
The 12-year employee at a city school managing adult education programs had her colleagues’ respect. But she made lavish purchases to redecorate her home and constantly gave gifts to others, and some wondered where the money was coming from. Read the rest of this entry “
At Rea & Associates, we believe some elements of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, create an excessive burden for closely held businesses and the accounting firms that serve them. Although GAAP principles work well for publicly-traded businesses, financial reporting requirements as a result of some of the principles take a great deal of time to prepare and result in additional accounting expenses for our clients – without providing any benefit to the businesses or those who use the financial information. Read the rest of this entry “
Actually, yes, there is. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering guaranteed loans of up to 90 percent to businesses in communities with populations of less than 50,000 people. The loan program was created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but has not attracted as many takers as officials had hoped. Read the rest of this entry “
I was just eating a grilled chicken salad and it made me think of how each of our organizations strives to provide superior customer service. It made me wonder how many of us do, in fact, meet those expectations.
Here’s the story. We order a lot of lunches from this particular business and usually everything is fine. Today, the salad left a lot to be desired. The lettuce for the most part was almost all a day or two past its prime. The tips were all brown and some if it was slightly slimy (sound appetizing?).
I wonder how many times you inadvertently serve up brown lettuce to your customers? You don’t do it intentionally, but you probably do it. Do you sometimes give advice that’s past its prime? Are you truly on the fresh side of providing new ideas? Read the rest of this entry “
Have you ever wondered why some business people are more successful than others? It doesn’t seem to make a difference what product or service they are selling either – certain individuals just have a natural ability to make a business progresses. Our founder, Richard Rea, identified 11 common ingredients found in all successful business people. If these ingredients are included in a business, it’s hard to see how it could fail. See how you rate against them! Read the rest of this entry “