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Business Owners: So Why Do You Do What You Do?

Business Owners: So Why Do You Do What You Do?
By Dave Casebere, Partner, B2B CFO® - Thu Aug 23, 2012 @ 12:01PM
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dave_casebere.jpgEvery day I work with business owners in a wide variety of industries helping them achieve their goals and reduce the stress they experience in running and building a business.  

 

As a part time Chief Financial Officer for these owners (and some non-profit leaders as well) my role is strategic in nature but I often find myself rolling up my shirt sleeves to get the job done in fixing day to day issues and problems.  

As a CFO, my technical goals are to improve profit margins, cash flow, and business valuations for my clients.  But my real goal is to put out the fires that keep them awake at night by helping them build stronger businesses that will minimize risks and enable them to achieve their life goals.   

As a business owner, why do you get up in the morning?

So, as a CFO my focus is on business – how to start, manage and build a successful enterprise – in ANY industry.  But I have discovered that the key to business success is in first defining what you want out of life; then determining how your business will help you get there.  Very often I meet business owners whose sole reason for getting up in the morning is to go to work.   When I ask why they are doing that I often get a blank stare or some far-off vague notion of what they ultimately would like to do such as:
 
To continue to enjoy my current life style or,
To retire when I’m 50, or
To put my kids through college, or
Nothing – I love to work and want to work till I die
 
I always ask this question because it is fundamental to building a successful business.  If one can define what he/she wants out of life then I can help him/her figure out how to get there using their business  as the primary vehicle for building the wealth they will need to fund their dreams.   
 

Is your business like a ship sailing without a rudder?

The follow-on question is this – When you are ready to leave the business how are you going to convert the equity you have in the business into cash or, how will you get cash out of the business if you have to retire early for some event that was beyond your control? Here is what I hear most often,
 
Sailing_for_the_money.jpg I’ll sell to my competitors
I’ll sell to my employees
I’ll sell to my kids
 
Bad answers all!  When the day comes, no one may want your business including your kids unless you have planned for the day well in advance.  Consider this; in the next 10 -15 years 12 million baby boomers will be looking to sell their businesses.  Most (80% + ) will fail for a variety of reasons.  
 
The number one reason is that they built their businesses around themselves so that once they are gone there is no business.  There are several other common reasons why business owners will fail in being able to get cash out of their business.  Don’t let it happen to you!
 
Planning is key and the earlier the better.   In the grand scheme of things there are really two “musts” to be successful.  The first is that you must know where you want to go.  If you don’t know that you will never “arrive”.   The second “must” is a plan.   


What are your goals and dreams for your business?

Business owners really need two plans.  The first and most important one is a plan for converting the equity in a business to cash when the day comes to leave the business keeping in mind that for many that day is not of one’s choosing.  Bad things happen to good people so planning for contingencies is critical.  This is often called an “exit strategy plan”.  It doesn’t come together overnight but develops and evolves over time under the guidance of an expert who is trained in exit strategy planning and acts as a quarterback in coordinating advisors of every type (bankers, attorneys, wealth advisors, etc.) for the benefit of a business owner.   
 
The second critical plan is one specifically for the business – the proverbial “Business Plan”.  Too often business owners spend thousands of dollars in having someone create a business plan for them so that they can make a better presentation in applying for a loan.  Then the plan is put on a shelf and forgotten.  More often, however, there is no plan at all and the business is like a ship without a rudder.   Again, without a plan a business might grow a little but it will never ever reach its potential.   So, in order to be successful in life a business owner must have the following:
 
1) Defined life goals
2) A plan for achieving those goals often called an “Exit Strategy Plan”
3) A dynamic plan for the business that guides every decision made in the company
 
Planning is the secret to success and answers the question of why you do what you do.
 


About the Author
 
Mr. Casebere is a partner with the firm B2B CFO®, a national association of highly skilled Chief Financial Officers who provide part-time assistance to small and mid-sized companies.  Mr. Casebere has over 30 years of experience in corporate finance helping companies of all sizes achieve their goals.  He is an expert at helping business owners and leaders of non-profit organizations increase their profit margins while improving cash flow and maximizing company value.  He holds an MBA, is a Certified International Credit Professional and Project Management Professional.   You can contact him at:  dcasebere@b2bcfo.com
 
Checkout his website at www.davecaseberecfo.com to see articles he has written on a wide variety of business topics and read his bio at: www.b2bcfo.com/partners/dcasebere.
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