Management & Leadership

25

May'18

How do I find the Right CPA?

Finding the right CPA or the right accountant is really important. Important because the results depend upon who you get, and it’s an area where you, the client may not be aware of whether you got the best advice or not. There are a lot of stuffy accountants (CPAs) out there who have very high opinions of themselves. They talk about “the firm” and act like they are something special. They tend to be rigid, unimaginative, high priced and advocate for themselves. There are also a lot of very friendly nice guys who are not very competent. They talk a good spiel, but they have neither the resources nor the experience to handle your problem. So how do you find the right CPA? What are you looking for? Lets see: 1. A hard-bitten no nonsense negotiator who can deal with the IRS at their level, knows all the audit tricks, has been there many times, a street fighter. 2. A clever innovative thinker who knows all the ins and outs of the law, understands the difference between light gray and dark gray, wants to take you to the limit of tax savings, but without crossing the line. 3. A plugger, …

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29

Mar'18

What does a Treasurer Do?

What is the function of the treasurer of a company? The answer is simple: the treasury function is all about looking at possibilities, risks, and returns. A treasurer of a company analyzes the economy, the business cycle, the product life cycle and the business plan of the company. What funds are going to be needed? Is there a recession coming or underway? How can funds be deployed for the best risk-adjusted returns? What is the cost of capital? The answers to these questions are all moving targets, and a lot of it is educated guesswork. The treasurer has to work with the management team in formulating and executing the business plan. The work is at the same time very granular and yet also broad brush to the point of conceptual. If they have promising projects, with large risk-adjusted returns on investment, that is where they should put their funds. If they can buy businesses with a good return on investment, they should do it. If they can place the money in investments which pay a greater return than their cost of capital, they should do it. If the Treasurer’s team sees a big recession coming, they may decide to build …

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02

Feb'17

Cutthroat Management Style

Many business owners think that a cutthroat pressure-cooker management style works.  Turn up the heat and things will cook.  Be ruthless with people and only the best will survive. It’s almost a cliche — put on the pressure and you’ll get results.  Does it really work? High pressure organizations may think their approach works, but it has consequences.  The stress results in higher healthcare costs, more workplace accidents, and a revolving door with employees. Who can be loyal to a company that treats its employees like automatons, throws out the “bottom” 10 % each year, and creates internal conflict and strife as a management approach? Studies have shown that cutthroat organizations are actually less productive.  They have less employee loyalty and higher turnover. It negatively affects workforce health, sucking the life out of people. What exactly is a cutthroat organization?  What things characterize that management style?  As in most things, there’s a spectrum, from mild to extreme.  Most  cutthroat environments have these ten characteristics: 1. They overwork people. Bring on those 50 hour workweeks! Create artificial deadlines and pile on the tasks.  Be sure to put high priority on  all tasks, and as a kicker, when one project is only half done, …

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02

Feb'17

How To Deal with Bullying At Work

Question:  I work for a small business and the manager is a total jerk, a bully in full form.  His management approach is pressure cooker.  It’s not uncommon to see him blow up at an employee, berating them for a minor problem.  He relishes firing people in front of other workers.  He assigns impossible tasks with unreachable deadlines and explodes when things aren’t up to his expectations. What do I do?   Response:  My sense of it is that the culture of an organization is established by one or two key opinion leaders. It may be a small group, where the leadership dynamics have descended into a desperate competition of egos and will to succeed.   The first step is to understand the dynamics of what is really happening. To do this, a person has to be able to step back and evaluate what’s going on and why. This is often much harder than it seems. Next, you are going to have to identify who are the opinion leaders. Where is the power, and who is pushing the “mean” button. Where is the pressure coming from, and why?   Then, you’ve got to have a turtle shell. The flow of …

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02

Feb'17

How to Deal with the Bitch at Work

It’s a problem.  We’ve all run across that woman in a leadership role who ends up being called a “bitch” behind her back.  She manages to create the perfect storm of resentment and fear  among her co-workers.   But is she really a “bitch?”   Is she acting in any way that different from what her male counterparts would do in a similar situation? Often, my sense of it is that women in the workplace fail in “tough management” jobs due to (1) a disconnect between the way they look and the way they act, (2) the particular way in which they address confrontation, which often is much different from men, and (3) and this will sound weird, but I think it’s true the different intonation in a female voice versus a male voice. Before everyone jumps on me for sexism, let’s be clear: there are distinct difference between men and women, in case you haven’t noticed. Un-PC thing #2, we all live our lives to varying degree by stereotypes. Sorry folks, it’s biologically built in. So, when we get a disconnect between what we subliminally expect and what would be normal male leadership behavior, our minds go tilt. Cognitive …

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26

Jan'17

What are the Psychological Implications of Starting a Business?

Question: I am working on a startup. I want to know how to be psychologically ready for the challenge. Response:  There are a variety of things that hit you: There’s a rush, excitement when you start out. Watch out, the bubble will burst, and you can’t predict when. Then there’s the overwhelming impact of the zillion things that have to be accomplished simultaneously now. Getting used to it is difficult for those who have been linear thinkers in a corporate environment. There’s the anxiety associated with every decision, the wait time, the gestation period from inception to survival, and finally, what comes next. There’s a strong chance that you may experience bipolar like euphoria and depression, sometimes almost simultaneously There’s the constant worry about cash flow, metrics, sales, cash flow, personnel, production, cash flow, marketing, cash flow There’s an exhaustion that sets in somewhere between 6 months and a year when you realize that you really are on a treadmill, and that you better run faster and better than all the other fools out there who are competing with you. Then there is the family. The spouse has been reading Inc Magazine and /or Entrepreneur, or has a friend who …

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25

Dec'16

How do I find a Good Sales Person?

Whoa! What all of us business / marketing types crave: a craftsman who loves to make things. OK. but you all be careful, y’all hear me? There are a lot of great builders who get burned big time. Ask anyone who was on the Windows development team, or the original Mac development team. If you are the engineer / builder, you must protect your skills and contributions. So, if you like building, and you are the one who is the driving force, then you are the owner. Now, you want to get some marketing talent. The problem is that marketing folks love to sell, and the first person they sell is you. For 50% of the firm, they will sell the hell out of it. STOP. First off, let me say I’ve started over a dozen businesses, taken two companies public, worked for many years as a CPA and adviser to many businesses, start up to middle market, to large public ( Aetna, Union Oil, etc type companies) My approach to management may be a bit German, but that’s my heritage, so it’s in the genes. There has to be a boss, and there have to be troops. Who is …

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16

Dec'16

How do you get your idea from concept to a business?

This is the proverbial chicken before the egg question. How do I know my idea will work? Let’s skip to the bottom line: you won’t and can’t know for certain until you jump in the pool and do it. Anything else is just speculation. What you can do is test your idea. You don’t need to incorporate your company or do any fancy stuff to test your idea. Several ways come to mind: You can test market the idea. So you start really small, make up a few prototypes and see if you can sell them. If your idea is a service, start it in a test market and try it out. See if it catches on. You can “focus group” test the idea, by polling people about whether they are interested in it or would purchase it. Sorry to say, but this is very unreliable. It does give you some “negative assurance” because if your focus group hates the idea and no interest is shown, well, you probably have a dud. You can begin the market the idea taking orders for future delivery. In the software business, this is known as selling vaporware. You have the idea, but the …

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12

Aug'16

How Can I Start a Business: I’m on the Job Treadmill

So, how can you start a business when you are trapped into your job?  How do you get the time and resources necessary? First, let’s analyze why it is you want to start a business. Many people want to start a business, few do, fewer are successful, and only a handful are actually happy once they do.

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11

Aug'16

How do I Increase Profits in My Business?

How do companies increase profits? The basic equation: Net income = Sales – Cost of Sales – Overhead

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