In my profession I see or speak to somewhere between 50 to 80 business owners and decision makers a week. In order to help, I ask several questions and the answers give me a picture of the good as well as the concerns of these enterprises. When you exchange information in such numbers, certain patterns or problems become visible and repeatedly appear. It also becomes apparent who are the most important business partners of small and mid-sized businesses and in what areas businesses lack action and activity. While every business’ major effort is in sales, business development and marketing, those that have sales and business open up another box of concerns that are pretty much underestimated, not only by the businesses itself, but by the main business partners of such operations. In my experience, it appears the main partners are the banks and CPA’s or those that take care of the administration process in the back office.
When a business, small, mid-size or big, faces groundbreaking changes, usually problems come to light. As an example for such a ground breaking change or event is financing or lending for campaigns/projects, growth, inventory or other. This is the time when the books undergo a thorough test, by the bank/lender. And it is also the time when mistakes or underestimated issues from the past can have a negative influence on planning and taking action for the future. (Please keep in mind that this example is only one of the many possible reasons that can bring light to mistakes from the past, there are really plenty)
Who is to blame? The business owner that neglected to take a close look at his business on a regular basis? The CPA that didn’t mention or didn’t follow up on possible upcoming problems? The admin that faced “lots of work and problems”, but didn’t mention them in order not to “look over-challenged” in the job? The bank that didn’t really care of the long time customer since the deposits were made on a regular basis and the account was in the books anyway? The answer is clear, ALL OF THEM! How short-sighted that is for all involved is also on the table. Everyone is losing in this example:
- The business owner that can’t grow his/her business and therefore can’t make more money
- The CPA is losing out on the opportunity to create more revenue from within
- The admin might lose the opportunity for a bonus, raise or might even lose the job
- The bank all of the sudden has a dissatisfied customer and a long term relationship is in jeopardy
What to do? Or, how to prevent such things from happening as a business owner? In order to answer the question, let me ask you a few questions. How many sales calls do you receive in a week? How do you handle them? They are bothering you, right? That is a problem. Many business owners claim they stay on top of new things and inform themselves via associations, their CPA’s or the Internet. While this is all good, one of the most valuable information settings is a sales presentation. Yes, you get a sales pitch and you hear and see a lot of sales/marketing power words. However, you have a chance to ask questions and get answers to these questions.
A sales call is an information gathering event and it is important to invest more time in these events and inquiries, because if you ignore them, you will miss valuable information. In the example above, whatever the problem was, payroll, receivables, the bank, insurance, accounting, account management or any other, you can bet that you missed a chance solving the problem you are facing right now, just because you ignored the incoming sales calls in the past. Sounds outrageous, doesn’t it? Think about it.
Keep a few hours in the week open for sales presentations. Sort out what is important to you and your individual case. This might be accounting, banking, cash-flow, HR and payroll, sales and business development. Put these on top and make sure you see these people. If you really are so short of time, invite them all together and give each a few minutes to explain what they have for you. The sales guys might not like such a setting, but, if they are good, they’ll go for it. Try it out and let me know your opinion.