Blog

Analysis for Managers: Financial Ratios

Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Setting up a Small Business, Small Business, Small Business Tips and Tricks Series, Taxes | Comments Off on Analysis for Managers: Financial Ratios

Analysis for Managers: Financial Ratios

Image result for financial ratios

 

If I were to tell you that someone weighs 75 lbs, you might say that he/she is a very light person. But what if I told you that person was a one-year-old? You would probably either fall off your chair, drop you phone on the ground or just flat out think I was bluffing.

And what if I told you that a certain company made a $1 million profit last year? Sounds like a big number, right? Does it change your perspective if I tell you that this company did $100 billion in sales last year? That’s only a 0.1% profit margin. Pretty slim in all reality.

The lesson here is a lesson on relativity. Measurement often becomes much more insightful when taken in context and shown with or in contrast to another measure. Weight to height, cost per square foot, profit to sales, short term assets to short term liabilities, etc.

Going along with our last post on cash flow, today we’re going to provide you with a quick list of places to go to find financial ratios that will help you dig a little deeper into your business’ financials. Here are three very useful sites on the subject:

Staples.com

  • Simple, easy to understand explanations of key financial ratios

 

BBT

  • Provides a quick reference guide separated by topic with easy calculation references

 

ZionsBank

  • A detailed guide to analyzing your small business financials—very helpful!

 

We hope these three resources, along with any others you find, will help you to do an even better job managing your business in order to keep serving your customers and taking care of you and yours.

 

Analysis for Managers: Cash Flow

Posted by on May 30, 2017 in San Diego Lawyer, Setting up a Small Business, Small Business, Small Business Tips and Tricks Series, Tips for Entrepreneurs | Comments Off on Analysis for Managers: Cash Flow

Analysis for Managers: Cash Flow

Image result for cash flow pictures

 

Have you ever been confused at the fact that you can sit at your desk and wonder, “How on Earth am I going to make payroll?” and yet the P&L (Profit and Loss statement) your accountant or QuickBooks just showed you says that your company is turning a healthy profit?

Welcome to cash flow problems!

This won’t be a completely comprehensive article on the subject but it should be enough to at least get you started or pique your interest. And for many, this will just be a quick review.

Below are four key points regarding the ever important concept of cash flow.

 

First: Understanding why cash flow analysis is important

Jonathan Moreland put it well when he said:

“At least as important as a company’s profitability is its liquidity – whether or not it’s taking in enough money to meet its obligations. Companies, after all, go bankrupt because they cannot pay their bills, not because they are unprofitable. Now, that’s an obvious point. Even so, many investors routinely ignore it. How? By looking only at a firm’s income statement and not the cash flow statement.”

A cash flow statement removes the noise of accrual accounting and helps us talk in terms of money in the bank here and now. This is essential because in business, “cash is king.”

 

Second: Building a cash flow statement

In most cases your accountant will be able to do this for you (but you may need to request it!) and oftentimes your small business accounting software will build one automatically. Do some clicking to find out.

For those who want to take on the exercise themselves (which is a fantastic way to truly understand), here is a helpful link.

 

Third: Analyze the information

The cashflow statement will end up giving you four net figures:

  • Cash flows from operations – how much money your company brings in and out during it’s day-to-day operations
  • Cash flows from investing activities – how much money your company brings in and out as a result of investments such as capital expenditures, purchase of securities, etc.
  • Cash flows from financing activities – how much money your company brings in and out from loans, outside investor capital, issuance of dividends, etc.
  • Net cash flows – the sum of them all, or the total net cash in the door

In addition to a standalone look at these metrics, another key here is benchmarking. You can compare to previous periods, other areas of the business or against key competitors in your industry. Just make sure that you’re using strategic benchmarking, or benchmarking against the best-in-class, rather than just an industry average. A good place to find industry benchmarking data online is found here.

 

Fourth and finally: Take action!

Now that you see where you’re netting positively or negatively in a given timeframe, or that you tend to dip into the red during certain periods of the year (using multiple period comparisons) or perhaps that you have some headroom when considering best-in-class performance, take action!

One important action you can take is to manage a cash flow budget. This can be as simple as listing your actual cash inflows and outflows over future time periods to forecast where there might be trouble. Then, have the discipline to either wait to spend or bring in some more cash.

After all is said and done, profit is still important but understanding exactly the money flowing in and out the door is equally as such (if not more). We hope this information has been helpful and that with this new skill set (or quick refresh) you can avoid that awful feeling of not having enough to make payroll and that you can have the power to grow your business into the future.

 

 

Not Filing Taxes Could Get You in Trouble with IRS says Gary Quackenbush Tax Expert

Posted by on Apr 6, 2017 in San Diego Lawyer, Small Business, Tax Season, Taxes, Tips for Entrepreneurs | Comments Off on Not Filing Taxes Could Get You in Trouble with IRS says Gary Quackenbush Tax Expert

Gary Quackenbush on NBC TV with Consumer Bob

CONSUMER BOB HELPS TO SAVE YOU MONEY AND TIME

Not Filing Taxes Could Get You in Trouble with IRS

Here is the link to a TV show Gary was on with Consumer Bob. The question was whether the IRS would catch up to you if you did not file a tax return. The answer may surprise you.

LINK – Quackenbush on TV with Consumer Bob – Late Filed Taxes – 2 minute video

 

Analysis for Managers: Industry Analysis

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 in Small Business, Success | Comments Off on Analysis for Managers: Industry Analysis

Analysis for Managers: Industry Analysis

 

The next important analysis to undertake around your business is an industry analysis. This is where we look at the entire landscape of the economic branch in which your business operates. To do this we’ll use a well-known and effective tool, called the Porter’s Five Forces,” which helps a manager to understand the current and future profitability outlook of his/her business. Figuratively and literally, each of these “forces” presses/suppresses profit margins within a given industry.

So, grab some paper, a notepad, or a open new Word doc and let’s answer some questions.

  • Industry rivalry—How intense is the competition in your industry? Do you feel like you’re “one-of-a-kind” or are you working hard to get others’ customers?
  • Threat of substitutes —How easy is it for a customer to substitute your product or service for another and still get the job done?
  • Bargaining power of buyers—Do the buyers in your business hold the big stick?
  • Bargaining power of suppliers—Or do the suppliers hold the big stick?
  • Barriers to entry—How easy is it for someone to enter into your line of work? (i.e. start doing what you’re doing?)

Other important questions to ask include:

  • How is business changing in my industry? i.e. more online, demand for speed, lower prices, etc.
  • What do I see my customers wanting in 10 or 15 years?
  • Why are these changes occurring?

As you consider these questions, it’s essential to flex that analysis muscle and keep asking, why? Doing so helps us identify the true and fundamental trends that are occurring in our industries.

Industry analysis is a higher level and more future-centered analysis than others, and for that reason it is vital. A manager that analyzes his/her industry, looks to the future and makes investments/changes as a result is much more likely to stay profitable!

All our best in your journey to continue to seek future success.

Analysis for Managers: Customer Analysis

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in Small Business | Comments Off on Analysis for Managers: Customer Analysis

Analysis for Managers: Customer Analysis

Image result for customer

 

As we begin our first functional post on analysis, let’s begin with a simple definition. One simple definition is:

“ [A] detailed examination of the elements or structure of something, typically as a basis for discussion or interpretation.”

With that in mind, today we’re going to examine our customer base and interpret their interactions with our business.

The two main things we recommend are 1) building and maintaining a detailed customer base and 2) talking to your customers.

Building a database will help you to discover patterns in your customers’ purchase behaviors so you can better understand who they are. With each new customer, find ways to gather information on them, i.e. a membership profile on your website, a loyalty program, using traceable tender (i.e. card numbers) or simply by taking time to watch who your customers are and taking hand notes on them.

Search for things such as: age, gender, race, income, where they live, what they like, why they came in who referred them, how they heard about your business, etc. Then start with some simple bucketing of the data, perhaps tied to how much they spend. Ask questions like:

  • Who is coming in? Older folks, millennials, families, higher/lower income, etc.
  • What percent of my business comes from each of these demographics?
  • Who spends the most or buys/uses your most premium products/services? Least premium?
  • How do most people hear about you?
  • What is the job that my product or service is being hired to perform?
  • Etc…

In the bestselling book, The Innovator’s Solution, authors Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor teach that understanding a pattern in customers’ behavior is not enough to predict how they’ll act, rather it’s though the understanding of why they behave the way they do that you can begin to meet best their needs. That said, as we’ve now identified patterns, let’s develop theories as to why they emerge.

This is best found in two ways: 1) asking yourself why a pattern exists and 2) talking to your customers directly.

One great model for talking to your customers is by holding focus groups, or small sit downs with a few customers, to ask them questions (perhaps offering free things in return for their time) and then taking what you learn from a small sample to build a survey to send to larger groups. This can either be sent via email or simply filled out in person and put anonymously into a box. Everything helps!

Analyzing your customers this way will help you understand their wants/needs, identify who your target customers are and how better you can serve them. Good luck!

New Series: Analysis for Managers

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in Entrepreneur, Small Business | Comments Off on New Series: Analysis for Managers

New Series: Analysis for Managers

Image result for analysis

An essential capability of managers is the ability to analyze. Analyze situations, numbers, markets, trends, products, people, financials, and more. For that reason, we’re excited to launch our newest series: Analysis for Managers.

This new series will feature posts on everything from the cognitive process of analysis to analyzing financial ratios and a business’ customer base.

But before you decide that you’re exempt from “this type of thing” and your not planning to read our upcoming posts because you “never liked math in school” or “you’re not a numbers person,” take heart from the famous statistician, Edward Tufte. He wisely taught: “If the statistics are boring, then you’ve got the wrong numbers.”

The numbers you read in high school about John approaching Jane at x miles/hour and Jane approaching John at y miles/hour were, most likely, “the wrong numbers” –and for that reason, you used to get bored. But when we start to discuss metrics such as your company’s income per employee, the dollar amount of liquid assets you need to operate your business (working capital) or time series analysis to understand market trends, you’ll start to be much more interested. Moreover–these posts won’t all be about numbers!

We look forward to discussing and learning together over these next few months and hope you join us in learning to be better, more analytical, managers. We promise the return on investment (ROI) of your time will be positive!

Becoming a Coach

Posted by on Feb 27, 2017 in Inspiration, San Diego Lawyer, Small Business, Success, Tips for Entrepreneurs | Comments Off on Becoming a Coach

Becoming a Coach

Image result for coaching

 

Thinking back to the most impactful people in your lives, who have they been?

For many, it’s family members, friends, bosses and undoubtedly–sports or other coaches. Coaches in particular tend to have a special place in peoples’ hearts as these coaches often expected the most of of them and gave them the most time and energy.

Likewise, it could be said that any good teacher, mentor or influencer is a “coach.” Today, we’re going to discuss Joseph Weintraub and James Hunt’s four reasons managers should spend more time not only receiving coaching but being a coach.

First: Coaching is essential for achieving business goals

Weitraub and Hunt in their May 2015 HBR article discuss how mangers that invest time in coaching see that coaching is not a “nice to have” aspect in the job force but a “must have.” They understand that talent needs to be worked, molded and grown and that talent is what will drive business results.

 

Second: Coaching can (and should be!) enjoyable

Few things are as rewarding as watching things grow. Think about it. Parents raising children, a gardner growing flowers, a businessperson growing their customer base–all rewarding, in their own right, because of growth.

 

Third: Coaching is satisfying for the curious

The writers share : “Coaching managers ask a lot of questions. They are genuinely interested in finding out more about how things are going, what kinds of problems people are running into, where the gaps and opportunities are, and what needs to be done better.” Learning about others and how to help them solve their problems can be immensely satisfying to the curious.

 

Finally: Coaching establishes connection

It is human nature to desire to be connected. And coaching is a fantastic way to facilitate it. As a coach shows empathy and works with a coachee, deep and lasting relationships can be formed; these can be something that grows to be more than a business transaction. These relationships can become something of value that creates bonds and builds a more meaningful sense of humanity in the workplace.

 

Overall, becoming a coach is a fantastic way to give back to those who have coached you. There is no sum of money and no praise worthy enough to repay a coaching debt, but becoming a great coach is perhaps the best and most desirable way to show appreciation to those who have gone before.

 

Now it’s your turn. Who do you know that needs a coach? Reach out, it’s time to give back!

Leadership Series: Your Legacy

Posted by on Jan 31, 2017 in Entrepreneur, Inspiration, San Diego Lawyer, Small Business, Success, Tips for Entrepreneurs | Comments Off on Leadership Series: Your Legacy

Leadership Series: Your Legacy

Image result for leaving a legacy

 

18 articles later, we’ve reached the final post in the Leadership Series. We hope you feel empowered and inspired to build your legacy as a leader.

In our first post of the Leadership Series we wrote the following:

“What is the one skill that would dramatically change the quality of your life? It might be communication, empathy, diligence, financial acumen, or perhaps a technical skill like programming or product engineering.

But what if we told you that there is one skill that is the sum of all other skills–the culmination of them all? Well, there is. And it’s LEADERSHIP.”

So, do you believe it now? Do you see how leadership is the key? We most definitely do and that’s why we spent nine months with leadership as the focus.

But now we’d like to end this series with one last story. The story of Alfred Nobel.

In 1867, Alfred Nobel, a Swedish scientist, invented Dynamite, a substance found to be extremely useful in excavation, mining and railroad construction. However, it wasn’t long before this explosive and dangerous compound began to take interest in military applications, where it was used in warfare during the Spanish American War.

“When Nobel’s brother died, a newspaper ran a long obituary of Alfred Nobel, believing that it was he who had passed away. Thus, Nobel had an opportunity granted few people: to read his obituary while alive. What he read horrified him: The newspaper described him as a man who had made it possible to kill more people more quickly than anyone else who had ever lived.

At that moment, Nobel realized two things: that this was how he was going to be remembered, and that this was not how he wanted to be remembered (source).”

After feeling the pain of reading what legacy he was on track to leave, he made a change by funding something that honors superior men and women who have made outstanding to the world. Today, Alfred Nobel is best known as the founder of the Nobel prize.

Imagine you were reading your obituary. What would it say? How would you be remembered? Would it talk about how your were ruthless, but “got the job done?” Or that you were a workaholic who brought his business from nothing to greatness, only while leaving his family behind?

Make the change today. You can “rewrite” your own obituary. You are the leader of your legacy.

We believe in you and are grateful for your leadership. Thank you for leading our world to become a better place.

 

Funding Living Trusts- A Major Problem

Posted by on Dec 27, 2016 in San Diego Lawyer | Comments Off on Funding Living Trusts- A Major Problem

Funding Living Trusts- A Major Problem

Lately I’m finding many people with un-funded trusts (meaning nothing was put into the Trust). Some are not funded due to refinancing or new purchases while others were never funded, or not prepared properly. No matter what your situation, funding living trusts is important.

funding living trust

Why Is An Un-Funded (empty) Living Trust a Problem?

Without proper funding, the Trust us is invalid. It simply won’t work or do what you think it should.

It is very expensive to fix or fund a Trust after death. To do so requires court involvement and lots of time and money.

We are finding that even some “estate planners” do not understand the rules on funding trusts. This is shocking!

Problems Funding Living Trusts Need to be Fixed Before Death or Incompetence.

Why is it so important to fix funding problems before death or incompetence?

Let me answer that question with a few examples of what often happens if the Trust is not properly funded:

  •  The house ends up in Probate court in a very expensive and painfully slow procedure called probate. Learn about probate in this post.
  • The kids will fight over personal property – like jewelry or china/silverware.
  • Money could end up going to the spouse of your child (or ex of your child) rather than your grand children – This situation CAN be controlled that without offending the in-law.
  • Personal property not in the trust is a problem that could cause court battles.
  • Life insurance not in trust could cause huge tax problems, delay in distribution, and possibly additional, expensive court involvement.

Fund your Trust properly and you can avoid huge problems and heart-aches.

Just a reminder, this and all of our posts are NOT LEGAL ADVICE. We hope these ideas will get you thinking and lead to better Estate Planning. My staff and I would be happy to help you update your plan or answer any questions. Thanks for reading.

GQ

 

An Entrepreneurs Gift to the World

Posted by on Dec 24, 2016 in San Diego Lawyer | Comments Off on An Entrepreneurs Gift to the World

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

Lights, presents, family, food and more food. Everybody loves the holidays. A time when people seem to be a little nicer and just a little more giving. In light of the holiday season, David Hagenbuch, Associate Professor of Marketing at Messiah College and founder of MindfulMarketing.org gives a shout out to entrepreneurs and their gifts to the world.

 

The 3 Gifts Entrepreneurs Give to the World

 

1. Ideas

“We live in a society where it’s so easy to be a critic and point out what’s wrong in what others have done. Meanwhile, it’s much more challenging to create — to come up with a new approach that no one has ever thought of before, or to make an incremental improvement to an already good concept. Such new ideas are golden.

“New ideas also implant a sense of optimism and hope: We don’t need to accept the status quo. Things can be different. Things can be better.”

 

2. Innovations

“Innovations from entrepreneurs such as Johannes Gutenberg, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs have enriched humanity throughout history and transformed our world. From the minute we wake in the morning until the moment we lay down to sleep at night, entrepreneurial products and services facilitate our work, play and nearly every other activity we perform.”

 

3. Employment

“Many professions offer extraordinary gifts to individuals and society: physicians give health, teachers impart wisdom, judges bestow justice, counselors offer direction and soldiers provide protection. What do entrepreneurs give of such significance? Jobs.

“To provide another with gainful employment is one of the most profound gifts one can give. While doctors heal people physically, business owners heal people economically. A job allows someone to provide for his/her own needs as well as those of loved ones and even others. Employment is much more than financial security, however. For most people, meaningful work helps provide them with a sense of purpose and supports their self-worth.”

 

For these three reasons, today GQ Law would like to say ‘thank you’ to all of you entrepreneurs out there. It’s that spirit of innovation, creation and giving that employs our families, drives our economy and gives us opportunity.

 

From one entrepreneur to another, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!