Growing Your Business in Omaha, NE 2017
While there are a select few that are content with things as they are, by nature, most business owners are forward-thinking and always working to grow their businesses. What it takes to grow a business and a business’s trajectory as it grows will vary for each, as will its needs in doing so, but there are some core pieces that are relevant to the growth of all businesses regardless of the type or industry.
There are several needs that come along with the growth of a business which seem fairly obvious, and one of those is having enough physical space to accommodate. The most likely options include a move to a bigger and/or better location or the addition of a location. With the advent and growing popularity of coworking spaces and office complexes offering private space that also comes with amenities and shared meeting spaces that are able to house multiple businesses, there are more options than ever. Advances in technology have also allowed professionals to work outside of a traditional office environment, with virtual office space becoming more readily available and utilized as well. No matter what stage or scale of growth a business is experiencing, or the budget allotted for rent and resources, there is likely something that fits the bill available.
The funds you have available after operating expenses are paid will determine how much you are able to invest in the growth your business. Business finance is fairly complex in nature, with a lot of factors at play. Thus, it’s wise to assemble a team of professionals so that you can maximize what you have to work with while also ensuring accuracy and minimizing your risk of incurring losses or errors that would set you back.
“From a banking perspective, the vision to manage your capital needs will be the determining factor in your success with growing your business,” says Mike Alford of Pinnacle Bank. “Capital can be defined as financial assets used in the production or accumulation of more wealth or revenue.
Depending on where you are in the growth cycle, your banking needs will vary. A new business that is just starting out generally has different needs than a more mature business that is looking to grow. The one thing they will have in common, however, is a need for more capital. With growth comes added expense and much of it has to be funded before that growth can happen.
Banks can help in a variety of ways to meet that need, such as lines of credit or term loans.
While still at historically low levels, interest rates started to rise most notably in December of 2015 when the Federal Reserve increased them for the first time since 2008. The prime rate had held at 3.25% for 7 years, and in the last 17 months, has risen to 4.00%. While 4% is still a very low rate, it does mean that if you borrow money it’s more expensive today that it was just a few months ago. It’s likely that rates will continue to rise through the next year, which will need to be considered as part of your business model.
Aside from the lending aspect, products that will help you manage your cash flow and collect receivables on time, along with the ability to have instant access to review cash inflow and outflows, are just as important. The ability to review what you are paying for services like credit card interchange rates is yet another way to help you keep more of your profits.
Almost every part of the business cycle revolves around funds going in and out in a timely fashion. Banking services give businesses the tools they need to meet those demands. From setting up payroll to paying utilities, taxes, suppliers and then giving your customers an easy way to pay you for your service or product, banks facilitate that flow of money. While the basics really haven’t changed, what has changed is that technology now makes it much easier and faster to access information and facilitate cash flows. Banks have actively kept up with that technology in order to give businesses the ability to manage their accounts in real-time. Any business, but especially one that is growing, will need that to operate successfully.
Currently the business climate is very strong, rates are still very low by historic standards, and technology is making easier than ever to manage the financial aspect of your business. If you are thinking of expanding it’s a great time to sit down and see how we can assist you in making that happen.”
He further advises, “One of the most demanding times for a company is during growth. You might think that when you are growing it’s going to get easier than when you started out, but it’s actually one of the most difficult when it comes to finances. Growth will generally require an upfront cash investment that will take months or even years to recover. From more payroll needs when hiring more people to buying more raw materials, more inventory, new more efficient equipment, a larger facility – all of these things come before that growth can happen. Seeing that need and preparing for it financially is critical and banks certainly can make that process much smoother.”
Also with regards to payroll, the processing aspect – including remitting taxes and filing federal and state payroll tax forms – is a potentially time-consuming task that business owners often attempt to manage on their own to the detriment of the bottom line and the wise use of their limited time. In addition to the hours spent on this task, lack of compliance with payroll tax filing requirements can lead to costly penalties and the added work of communicating with tax authorities and fixing errors. Utilizing a provider such as PAYCHEX will help you avoid these types of issues altogether.
With respect to revenue, also as previously mentioned, accepting payments is an important part of conducting business. This includes having systems in place for accepting payments at the time a product is purchased or service is rendered as well as billing and accounts receivable.
With growth comes doing business with more customers and therefore, more financial transactions. Consumers are no longer carrying checks or even cash for that matter so a growing business needs to be able to meet their consumers’ payment expectations by accepting debit, credit, and gift card payments. There’s also plenty of new and enhanced technology to take advantage of when it comes to monetary exchange as well as other aspects of managing your day-to-day operations, but you’ll need to know the specifics in order to know what the best fit would be for your business. It’s extremely important to partner with experienced professionals who can get you set up with the optimal merchant payment system and who will also guide you through training of its features and capabilities so that you can use it to your business’s full advantage as you continue to grow.
“American Payment System’s goal is to help our merchants grow their businesses,” emphasizes Jim Barnes, owner of American Payment Systems. “For all of the business owners out there, APS wants you to do what you do best, whatever that may be, and let us do what we do best for you–merchant card processing. It’s a priority for us to help you grow your business; the more you grow, the more we grow. In an industry that is full of scammers, it is important to find a company that you trust for your processing. It is easy to find yourself in contracts with hidden fees and high rates, and it is these companies that give business owners a negative impression of the processing industry. In today’s day and age, the plastic card industry is growing rapidly, so it is imperative for business owners to educate themselves. American Payment Systems also offers free consulting on competitor’s quotes or existing statements to help merchants understand what they are paying for and where their money is going.
Moreover, there are hundreds of different types of equipment available. American Payment Systems is always seeking out new partnerships with equipment providers in order to offer our merchants a wide variety of options, enabling us to select the one that’s truly the best fit for each company. There are Point of Sale systems with inventory and employee scheduling features, or the best fit for your business could be something as simple as accepting payments on your smartphone. The possibilities are vast, and APS is here to make accepting payments as simple and easy as possible for the merchant at a price that won’t break the bank!”
Finally, successfully collecting on your accounts receivable is another key area that will help to drive growth. A tough truth for business owners is that rarely will 100% of outstanding accounts will be paid in full upon receipt of an invoice. While nobody goes into business thinking that their valued clients with whom they have built a relationship won’t hold up their end of the deal and pay their bills, unfortunately, it’s a reality. At some point in time, you will need to use a law firm or collection agency to pursue payment on past-due accounts. When outsourced to a third party, you won’t have to be the “bad guy” and it will allow you to focus on doing what you do best while simultaneously bringing in more funds that will be instrumental in the growth of your business.
In terms of what you’ll need to have in place to support the daily functions of your growing business, office equipment and supplies are things that you don’t necessarily notice when you have what you need at your disposal. However, you’ll find that you run into trouble quickly if what’s required isn’t available or working properly. Furthermore, as far as managing expenses goes, it’s an area to examine carefully. There’s plenty of potential to save money that you can allocate to other areas that will support continued business growth. “At Cartridge World, we provide top quality printing products, local service, and expert advice for our business clients,” says Andy Neil of Cartridge World. “With the business class print solutions we are able to deliver, you could save up to 30% off big box store prices while you enjoy the brand selection you want, the quality products you need, and the unsurpassed value you simply can’t find anywhere else. In addition to guidance on choosing the right device for your needs, we’ll also help with related tasks such as ordering supplies and servicing equipment. Not only will our exclusive approach to office printing save you money, but it will also help you improve efficiency and print greener. We’ll help you reduce the burden and expense of your printer-related activities so you can focus more on what you do best.”
As far as the technology to support your operations, again, there are a wealth of options to consider utilizing and implementing as your business grows.
“Once you begin to grow, outsource your IT,” advises Joel Friesen of Five Nines. “Unless you are in the IT business or a similar vertical, don’t attempt to do it yourself. Our partners grow more quickly than their competition because they have dependable IT, secure networks, reliable/backed up data, and a budget with a plan for growth.”
Aside from technology-related items to consider, Friesen also offers a few other helpful tips for business owners and leaders/managers:
- Identify your target client and pursue only them relentlessly.
- Don’t get distracted with new lines of business until you perfect your wheelhouse and have proven success (profit).
- Spend the time necessary to establish your core values and then hire/fire based on them. Make no exceptions.
- Read Traction by Gino Wickman and begin implementing immediately.
To further expand on his final point, this book details the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, which is a model that focuses on how to manage and strengthen the Six Key Components™ of your business—Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process, and Traction—to achieve your dreams for your business.
- Vision: Get everyone in the organization 100% on the same page with where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
- People: Surround yourself with great people, top to bottom, because you can’t achieve a great vision without a great team.
- Data: Boil your organization down to a handful of objective numbers that give you an absolute pulse on where things are.
- Issues: Become great at solving problems throughout the organization and making them go away forever.
- Process: ‘Systematize’ your business by identifying and documenting the core processes that define the way to run your business. This is the secret ingredient in your organization.
- Traction: Bring discipline and accountability into the organization, taking the vision down to the ground and making it real.
Specifically regarding talent acquisition, with the growth of a business comes adding members to your team as it becomes clear which areas would benefit from the additional support. These individuals will be critical to the success of your efforts. As many business owners can relate, across all industries, hiring the right people is no easy task. For those who don’t yet have the resources to allocate to an HR professional or department in-house, a partnership with a local staffing company such as Manpower is advised.
“You have to get the right people in place to make your business successful,” advises Karla Keegan of Manpower. “Finding employees and talent is what Manpower does. We source, recruit, screen, interview, and place candidates every day. We’re also able to provide valuable information that will greatly help with decision making, including market trends, wage analysis, quarterly business reviews, marketing campaigns, strategic sourcing, and risk management. Talent within an organization is doing one of two things – saving money or making money – and we can come alongside to help with either depending on your goals.”
Once you have the right people in place, talent development will be your next point of focus, and is also mission critical to the successful growth of an organization.
All companies must embrace the accelerating rate of change, in this area as well as others. As an overarching rule of thumb that applies universally, to remain competitive, companies must rapidly adapt. This requires employees at all levels to have learning agility, receptiveness to new ideas and an appetite for change. There are now scientific assessments that can detect these traits (or the lack of them). When managers have insight into their employees’ strengths, they can empower their people to be the engine for change and growth.
Currently there’s a lot of buzz now about Millennials, and that generation is the workforce of the future. Leaders and managers need to retain and build on the talent that has grown their business in the past and seamlessly integrate it with the talent that will grow their business for the future. Talent selection and talent development are the great equalizers in that process because talent transcends age and experience. Understanding talent allows you to build high-performing teams of people who bring their A-game to work every single day. When you do that, you can’t help but achieve the growth goals you have for your business.
After investing in your people and optimizing their growth, earning the loyalty of your existing customers should be your next priority to optimize the growth of your business. Retaining customers and winning their continued loyalty costs less and returns more for your investment relative to finding new customers. Your people are the tip of the spear for cultivating healthy, long-term client partnerships.
After taking into consideration everything we’ve covered so far, you’ll want to incorporate those items and any other things that will play a part in the growth of your business into an actionable plan to follow moving forward.
Rose Mary Hefley of Achievement Unlimited, Inc. offers the following insight and advice:
“There are prerequisites for growth that if violated, puts the organization at risk. As such, you’ll want to consider the following:
When looking to grow a business there must first be a plan, and the plan must be communicated to employees so everyone in the organization is all moving in the same direction.
You must have a consistent performance record of providing a worthwhile product or service. Referring to a quote by Warren Buffet, ‘It takes 30 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.’ A business must have a healthy brand if they are planning to expand.
Is there demand for the product or service that you are looking to expand? Has market research been done to support the idea? Have you done a test to support your idea for growth? The product or service must have an expanding demand profile.
Profitability – Is it sufficient to expand the business?
Does the business have sufficient capital and management of capital to support any plans for growth? Without effective cash management, a growth initiative can endanger a company’s cash and credit position.
Does the business have proven Strategic/Marketing/Business plans?
Do you have effective leadership and a competent team in place? Most businesses that fail in the growth stage will do so because of lack of leadership and/or the poor execution of projects.
Finally, risk management in all areas will be critical.
Achievement Unlimited Inc. assists clients with all of the above requirements, providing services for Leadership Development, Strategic Planning, Team Building, Manager Development/Training, Sales Management/Training, and Continuous Improvement.
The good health of the current economy is encouraging for expansion-minded entrepreneurs. Currently, Baby Boomers are retiring in greater numbers than in recent past. This trend combined with low financing cost could offer expansion opportunities via acquisition or merger. Other traditional expansion strategies may include: *Geographic Expansion, *Offering Franchise, *Product Licensing, *Internet and Social Media, *Alliance and Strategic Partnerships.
Whatever the case may be, the most critical element in growing a business is the leadership of the organization. The leader is responsible for success or failure, and we have seen more businesses fail because of lack of leadership and poor hiring practices than for any other reason. Successful leaders work with executive coaches to hone their skills. We work with our clients to:
- Unify the management team around a shared vision for the future their organization.
- Collaborate to develop a clear and detailed strategy to realize the shared vision.
- Develop and implement specific annual financial, marketing and operating plans.
- Develop a culture of trust and mutual support within the entire organization.
- Design, develop, educate and implement high-performance teams to execute the defined strategy and maintain a competitive advantage.
- Provide all team members with the necessary leadership and self-mastery skills to enjoy personal success and growth.
Our services have been proven to provide at least a 3:1 return on investment. Achievement Unlimited, Inc. is an organization founded on the principle that our success is dependent on our consistently and professionally delivering measurable performance improvement strategies to our clients. It is not enough to talk about change or make recommendations. Our clients must be able to implement change and realize measurable performance improvement. To realize growth, they must also be able to verify perceived new market demand, ensure the ability to provide for new demand, focus on what they do best, plan strategically, closely follow profitability results, develop a high-performance management team, and be prepared for the unexpected.”
Many of us here in the Omaha Metro would consider ourselves on the mission of growing our businesses. Being in such good company, we can all benefit from each other. Having a team of trusted professionals at your disposal when needed it invaluable, and we encourage you to get in touch with local experts to help you take your business to the next level.