Measure So You Can Manage

Having the right performance metrics helps you drive growth. Let me share with you six steps to implement effective measures to manage. Keeping a competitive edge in today’s marketplace requires ongoing investment in the transformation of your business. As Mark Twain said:  To stand still, is to fall behind.

1)      Clearly define your corporate goals

Without a clearly defined and documented strategy, it is impossible to set expectations and monitor performance. You can only manage what you can measure, so if you lack such a strategy, begin to brainstorm and evaluate opportunities for continued growth.  Understand what your weaknesses and strengths are and begin documenting so that when it is finalized, you can share it with your employees. You may think that everyone knows where you are going, but don’t’ assume.  No one has ever over communicated!

2)      Identify short-and long-term operational goals

Take your strategy and identify what you want to accomplish short-term (3 mos) and what needs a bit more time (12 mos).  This would include approaching the weaknesses and turn them into strengths. In operations you want to evaluate each step taken and whether it adds value or not to the final product or services.  Think lean here and optimize the process.

3)      Establish milestone, deliverables and tasks to support your goals

Now you may be ready for the roadmap.  Establish milestones, deliverables to be achieved and identify tasks and who performs them.  Now that you have documented and shared the strategy with your employees, it is important to listen to them and get their input.  Agree on goals, objectives and timetables.  Evaluate whether you have adequate resources, so you have a better chance of succeeding.

4)      Develop and implement metrics for all key activities

This is where the measuring starts. Make sure you engage your employees in setting performance metrics.  Here are some examples: Customer retention rate, supply chain rate of return, funnel conversion rate or call center support metrics. Be proactive and pay attention to leading indicators in your industry and pay less attention to lagging ones.  Clarify expectations with your executive team and staff, empower your employees and boost their engagement. Set some incentives in advance and make sure that all metrics are objective and not subjective.

5)      Monitor progress and make improvements as needed to stay on course

Now you have a roadmap in place that you can begin to monitor and manage. Your employees understand what is expected of them and how they can help the company grow.  Making a difference goes a long way in terms of talent retention.  There needs to be purpose and connection to the larger scheme as participation can give them a better understanding of how they personally can affect the business.

6)      Assess the effectiveness of metrics and modify if necessary

Close the loop by evaluating regularly how the metrics are working.  What is the assessment of your staff and how well are they adhering to these metrics?  Do you need to change them, are they giving you information that is meaningful to the future of your business?

Start the conversation today regarding how you can drive results with the right performance metrics. Transparency and accountability will be on your side as you seek a way to measure and manage. This is an ongoing process and of course, if your business changes, so do your performance metrics.

My book “Stop Compromising” has its own chapter (chapter 5) on this topic and explains ways to think about KPIs and performance metrics.

Let me know what KPIs and performance metrics have worked for you and what particular leading indicators you use for your roadmap.

 

A-Team Outside the Box

Outsdie the boxYour ‘Outside-the-Box’ A-team

Every business has its challenges, yet most private companies do not engage a board of advisors. So let’s look at your options a little more carefully to see how you might want to set up such a board. Creating an Advisory Board (BoA) is making use of a group of outside experts, in other words, an “A-Team outside the box”! I am playing a bit with words here, but I want to emphasize that you should try to think unconventionally and gain some perspective by adopting an approach that’s essentially “outside your business.”  Have this group bring you business knowledge that you don’t currently have access to, information of the sort that will encourage profound questioning and probing.

An advisory board will provide you with non-binding strategic advice. This option gives you greater flexibility in how you might structure and manage this group than a traditional board of directors. Your selection of senior-level business leaders, experts and thought leaders to serve on your BoA will be very important. It might be easy to ask your accountant, lawyer or best friend to serve on your board, but that will be a mistake. A board with a completely outside perspective will bring you a refreshing new way to view your challenges and problem-solving, and get you out of your four walls to help you concentrate on working ON your business.

You’ll want to have high-level advisors who can advise you on all things business.  Every one of them should have an appetite for forward-looking opportunities and bring a strategic mindset to the tasks at hand. The BoA should have a good cross-section of expertise, such as talent retention and acquisition, strategic finance, sales and distribution, leadership coaching and operations/productivity, to name just a few of your BoA’s skill sets.

Starting the process, you’ll need to focus on 4 steps:

  1. Selection of Advisors

You want advisors who complement your own skill set, but also understand the need to keep the conversation strategic and “big-picture.” Look for advisors who are excited about your business and industry and see in it the potential and opportunities.

  1. Commitment and Compensation

Decide what the rate of compensation for your BoA hires should be. For a lower middle-market company, make an investment based on the frequency of meetings. An advisory board member may earn between $1,000 – $5000 per meeting.

  1. Discovery Process

At the first meeting, introduce your company to the board. Give them a good background summary of how you have built the company, where you are today and where you may want to be in the next three years.

  1. Deliverables

For the first meeting, draw up an agenda yourself.  After that, the chair should create an agenda with specific action items for each meeting. Discuss deliverables in each session, whether they were achieved or not, and if not, why not. Based on that information, make appropriate adjustments and identify additional resources and support if needed.

Advisory board work is a long-term solution for your business and your executive team. View it as a long-term strategy to help ensure the future health of your company. The benefits of such an investment are that you gain access to a group of thought leaders and business experts who will brainstorm, help you define a better solution and add to your thinking power. If they are effective, they will hold you accountable for finding solutions and applying them to your business.

Several times in my work with business owners and CEOs, I’ve heard them tell me they don’t want to pay for “thinking.” I always tell them that while they might consider themselves as being very strategic and smart risk takers, having another set of brains on hand might just get them “outside the box” in terms of ideas and problem solving that will help them advance beyond their competition.

Developing an advisory board to support the future of your company is one of the best investments you can make, as long as the goals and deliverables are clearly stated and you see yourself and your company making progress. Never under-estimate the power of outside the box thinking and advising. You have an opportunity to assemble an A-team to help you sort out your priorities and challenges, all for a relatively small investment of $30-$75,000 a year. The return on this investment is a factor of many, not excluding the fact that you are becoming a true leader for your business.

Want to know more?  Contact Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz for more details at 617-449-7728

 

Where Big Ideas Come From

Our 3rd CEO Leadership Event of our 3-part Series

Wednesday, May 18th from 12noon – 2pm

Logo Exec Lead

What can we learn from fast growth businesses who live and provide the latest technology?  How do they find the right people? Where do their big ideas come from? Does culture drive growth or does culture adapt?

Join us for a rich conversation over a lovely lunch and no traffic!

REGISTER TODAY TO HAVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE!

PANELISTS:

CloudLock   Gil Zimmermann, CEO & Co-Founder, CloudLock

Mobiquity   Bill Seibel, past CEO, Mobiquity

CTP   Chris Greendale, Founder & CEO, Cloud Technology Partner

MODERATOR:            Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, Founder & CEO, Next Stage Solutions, Inc

WHERE:  The Lanam Club, 260 N Main Street, Andover, MA 01810

Register Today!

Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz of Next Stage Solutions, Inc. | 617. 449. 7728

Andy Snider of Snider Associates | 617. 947. 1170

How Fast Growth is Achieved

Addressing the Challenges of Succeeding the 21st Century

Spiral Wednesday, May 18th  12-2pm   Part 3

Approaches that worked in 2000 are not enough to succeed in 2016.  Digitization of things is upon us. What can we learn from fast growth businesses who live and provide the latest technology and what opportunities can we create when we are ready to embrace the new state of doing business?

PANELISTS:

Mobiquity   Bill Seibel, past CEO, Mobiquity

CTP   Chris Greendale, Founder & CEO, Cloud Technology Partner

CloudLock   Gil Zimmermann, CEO & Co-Founder, CloudLock

MODERATOR:   Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO, Next Stage Solutions, Inc.

Learn about techniques that the most advanced companies are using to achieve extraordinary results and to make their organizations more adaptive.

WHERE:  The Lanam Club, 260 N Main Street, Andover, MA 01810

Register Today!

Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz of Next Stage Solutions, Inc. | 617. 449. 7728

Andy Snider of Snider Associates | 617. 947. 1170

XPX Summit 28 April

“When you Fail to Plan, you’re Planning to Fail”

This classic John Wooden quote isn’t the tagline of XPX Boston… but it could be!  XPX sets the national standard for leadership in the critical area of assisting business owners to prepare for what is usually the most significant financial transaction of their lives.

XPX Summit

Annually, XPX hosts the Summit, a full day of learning from thought leaders in many disciplines that deliver world-class content. For this year’s event – the theme is “From the Outside In – the Buyer’s Perspective on Business Value”

Our very own Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO & Founder of Next Stage Solutions, Inc., a business and finance advisory firm to midmarket businesses, will be moderating a break-out session called:

When You Get to a Fork in the Road, Take It!

The only way you can follow Yogi Berra’s advice is to build value for your business today to achieve multiple options for your next stage. You will hear from the 4 CEOs how they built value for their organization over time and why it is important to start early.
Jim Bourdon, CEO, Accounting Management Solutions
Emily Green, Former CEO, Smart Lunches, Inc.
Gary Harnum, Former Founder, CFO & CAO, i-parcel, LLC
Hilary Potts, CEO, The HAP Group

Exceptional keynote speakers include Chris Oddleifson, the CEO of Rockland Trust who will be speaking about his experiences after completing six successful acquisitions in the last nine years; Dr. Daniel Korschun, the author of “We Are Market Basket will share firsthand accounts of what he and co-author Grant Welker learned from the streets and executive suites as they studied and documented the unprecedented Market Basket story while it erupted and unfolded during the summer of 2014.

A number of great breakout sessions focused on how business owners can increase the value of their businesses in a myriad of ways that help ensure a successful sale.

XPX generally sells out this event – last year there were nearly 180 attendees. If you’d like to attend you should consider registering soon!  Early Bird ends April 14th!

Sign up

 

Effective Strategy Execution

Logo Exec Lead Part II:  Tomorrow is Here: Profitable Growth Requires Critical Assessments for Effective Strategy Execution          

Tuesday, March 29 Noon – 2pm over lunch

Specially for You:   Bring a CEO and Get a 2 for 1       Register yourself at regular rate and your prospect/client CEO at no charge with the special NSSCEO code.

Register Today!

Questions we will be addressing:

  • What specific changes did you make so that you could truly scale your business?
  • Do you have a certain process you follow?  If so, can you share that process?
  • What are your stories, both positive and negative, that you believe are essential for any CEO when considering profitable growth?
  • What we cannot measure we cannot manage.  What are your top three value drivers and how do you measure them?
  • Can you share with us what measures you have put in place to assure that the strategic plan gets executed within the capital resources and timeframe you planned?
  • How are you making use of the available technology and where do you see the potential competitive advantage?

Panelists:

   
Randy Nunley, CEO of Odyssey Systems Consulting Group
Charley Storey, President of Harpoon Brewery
                
Kevin Young, President of Mondi International
Moderator:    Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions, Inc.

Come and hear from successful CEOs in how they shifted their focus to achieve growth by implementing the right infrastructure to effectively identifying new growth opportunities.

Join us to learn more in how CEOs have embraced qualitative and quantitative practices to address demands critical for future growth and long-term value creation.

ACCELERATED GROWTH DEMANDS CRITICAL AND INNOVATIVE SHIFTS  A 3-part mini series on how today’s business leaders successfully grow their organizations.

Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz of Next Stage Solutions, Inc. | 617. 449. 7728 or Andy Snider of Snider Associates | 617. 947. 1170

NSS feels the love…

WE FEEL THE LOVE…

Is February a good month to consider looking at growth opportunities and start with a Benchmark Assessment?

Well, we feel the love in the air so please read on and check out our gift to you below!

For any new readers, NSS is an experienced, cross-functional and operationally driven group of Business and Finance Advisors.  In particular, we focus in four areas of your business:

  1. Growth Opportunities
  2. Profit Optimization
  3. Business Systems and Processes
  4. CFO Search and CFO Mentorship

NSS finished tabulating the results of a CEO SURVEY taken in Q4 of 2015.  Our survey incorporated questions around growth, decision-making, immediate challenges and their view of importance on financial expertise.

Let’s take the first one, GROWTH, and how they identify opportunities.  What is their process in making sure the opportunity is achievable and optimal for the organization? Our question “What could hold you back from achieving your growth objectives”, provided us with an evenly distributed response:

  • 1/3 feared that the opportunity would no longer exist as planned, whether additional products to market materialize or lack of opportunity in general
  • 1/3 worried of not finding the additional capital
  • 1/3 were concerned in finding the right people

The first one is indeed an intriguing fear and I would like to address this a bit further.  With continuous uncertain market conditions, an organization today must be nimble, efficient and quick in the decision-making process. Goals are achieved by companies who operate at the highest level of effectiveness. In order for the CEO and Business Owner to understand how to maximize growth and profit opportunities, they must understand the contributing value of each of the Four Functional Business Elements: Sales, Operations, Finance and Organizational Culture.

We learned that most of the CEO Survey takers did not have any particular decision-making process, but mostly relied on their intuition.  A day in the life of a CEO is extremely demanding yet making a silo-based decision could hurt the company long term.  Every decision has ramifications to the entire organization, whether it is an offsite Strategy meeting or a Sales Pipeline Projection Exercise.  Don’t get me wrong, these activities are important, but the dots must be connected back to the Four Functional Business Elements and eventually back to Finance.

In order for a business to successfully and optimally make decisions, they must first understand the interdependency of these four business functions, how they relate or not relate. Often changes can be made easily within a department so not to hold up a decision-making process or in the worst case, miss the opportunity all together for a new product launch.

Two years ago, NSS developed a Benchmark Assessment tool to help our clients gain a more in-depth understanding of how the business functions interrelate and how they can de-risk the business with having a solid decision-making process in place. Because we at NSS practice cross-functional thinking when working with our clients, we created a true value for them in developing our short and long version of a business assessment tool: Best Practice Roadmap™.

It is February and we feel the love in the air!!  NSS   offers you a complimentary short version of a Best Practice Roadmap™

BENCHMARK ASSESSMENT REQUEST FORM

The assessment is designed for businesses with $15M+ in annual revenue and if you would like to find out how you stack up against best practice firms, please send us your contact information and we will send you the link to fill out the assessment online.  Once you complete the assessment, we will analyze the information and send you back a report. Of course, with complete confidentiality.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!  Rudi and the NSS team

Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz of Next Stage Solutions, Inc. | 617. 449. 7728

Tools for Profitable Growth

On Thursday January 21 the first program of the 2016 CEO leadership lunch series was held at the Harvard Club of Boston in Back Bay. If you were unable to join us for the January event we hope to see you on March 29. REGISTER TODAY!

The topic of the first event was “ Leading in Changing Times.” Andy Snider from Snider Associates moderated a panel that included Roger Berkowitz, CEO of Legal Sea Foods, Pat Sullivan, CEO of Game Creek Video, and Dennis Slutsky, former CEO, American Dryer.

Dennis Speaking Part 1

Over 40 people attended the event and seemed to feel that it was a worthwhile investment of their time.

Some of the more interesting thoughts that were discussed included:

  • Leadership and effective collaboration are critical to success in changing environments
  • To avoid bad business outcomes in times of change use metrics to make decisions
  • Hire the brightest and greatest. If we think they are good, we will find a place for them.
  • How to make executive teams more functional and breaking down the silos is one of the biggest challenges.

The next event will be held on Tuesday March 29, 2016 at the Waltham Woods Conference Center in Waltham MA.

PART 2: Tomorrow is Here: Profitable Growth Requires Critical Assessments Tools for Effective Strategy Execution

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 12noon – 2pm at Waltham Woods, Waltham

Hear from successful CEOs in how they shifted their focus to achieve growth from implementing the right infrastructure to effectively identifying new growth opportunities. Join us to learn more in how CEOs have embraced qualitative and quantitative practices to address demands critical for future growth and long term value creation.

PANELISTS:

  • Charlie Storey, President,  Harpoon Brewery
  • Kevin Young, President,  Mondi Group USA
  • Randy Nunley, CEO, Odyssey System Consult. Group

MODERATOR: Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions

Who should attend?  CEOs and Business Owners of midmarket companies  Sign up

4 Things to Scale

What is Scalability?

We define scalability roughly as a way to transform your business for profitable growth. It should not be confused with economies of scale which result in lower unit costs as you increase the quantity of units produced or purchased. Economies of scale alone do not guarantee that your operating margins improve as revenues increase, whereas scalability does.

Scalability is about Processes, People and Technology.  To effectively scale a business four key elements must be in place:

  1. A Strong Management Team
  2. Well-defined Business Processes
  3. An Integrated Business System
  4. Fully-Documented Operating Procedures

Creating a business model that incorporates the capabilities to address increased demand will result in increased profit margins.  Top line growth is important, but equally, if not more, important is the bottom line growth.

For more details on the four elements, watch our short Rudi/Tuesday Video on Scalability.

In order to fully optimize this transformation, it is vital to consider each of the above points.  Difficult to achieve?  Not if you have a plan in place and set your priorities and timelines.  What is important is that you address all four areas on a continuous basis to fully realize scalability.

As a start, begin by looking at the following in your organization:

  • Flow of Work Performed
  • Current Approach and Methods
  • Timeframe for completion of each process

Examine the flow of work performed and how information is delivered in Finance, HR, IT, Legal and Sales.  Identify and review current written procedures and determine what is adequate and appropriate and what is no longer relevant. Look for lack of coordination and departmental silos and use the cross-functional approach that goes across your business disciplines.   This is where you will gain higher savings and broader benefits.  Consider how best to shorten each process to reduce time to market.

Key levers such as business systems, processes, talent, organizational structure and governance need to be addressed.  Be broad in your approach.  Many of these activities can be centralized.  Always ask yourself “Do we still need this and why? Is it still necessary?”  Engage your employees to determine why they are performing certain functions and procedures. A scalable administrative infrastructure by centralizing G&A will eliminate redundant activities.

Another area to consider is reducing your fixed costs as much as possible.  You want to have as much Operational and Workforce Agility as possible.  High fixed costs force you to move like an ocean liner rather than a speed boat, essential in today’s economy.  Variable costs you can control as they are directly related to sales.

Companies that embrace scalability, efficiencies and effectiveness are generally more focused on market opportunities and outward looking.

A scalable business model increases the value of your business so it is well worth the investment of your time and resources. Most important is to understand that you want to change from a Founder-driven organization, working IN the business in charge of it all, to a Process-driven organization, working ON the business and establishing a strong management team to support you.  Growth is a desire and Scalability is a capability to fully take advantage of sustained growth.

Join us for the upcoming CEO Workshop on Thursday, 29 October at 11am and listen to three exceptional Executives who have taken their business to the next stage by scaling.  Click HERE for more information and to register.  We are in a small but intimate setting, so secure your place by signing up now!

Email us at info@nextstagesolutions.com or

call 617-449-7728

CFO Coaching & Mentoring

CFO Coaching & Mentoring at NSS

CFO Image

You have heard a lot about how the CFO position has become more complex and demanding over the years. Let’s also acknowledge, that a typical midmarket CFO oversees different parts of the finance spectrum. Sometimes they are called Controllers who do CFO level work and sometimes it’s the other way around. So for our point of view, let’s define this position as Head of Finance in your company.

The Head of Finance is often a person who has been with the organization for some time, and has enjoyed a number of promotions including a title promotion from Controller to CFO acknowledging the increased transactions associated with the business growth. More employees are added, additional markets entered and products introduced, and the financial management expectations become more and more complex.

The challenge for a growing business is you must now consider an operational and results driven CFO who is capable and has the time to discuss your growth opportunities. Ideally, you want your finance department to provide a valuable service to the organization, rather than be seen as an isolated department that provides results/numbers only. One who embraces walking the floor, talking with sales and operations and helps them problem solve with specific issues. The compliance and fiscal responsibilities are a given, delegated and with oversight by the CFO.

Has your Head of Finance kept up with professional development and courses to handle the increasing demands of their job? In all fairness, things get so busy and besides, an evolving CFO is not often asked to participate in key decisions and apply their respective business insight. The CEO or Business Owner is very loyal to that Head of Finance and typically wants things to work out.

Understanding and accepting that loyalty is the key reason for stability, NSS has developed a program to mentor and coach your existing Head of finance or CFO. Our program is unique in how we work with the existing CFO and allows for true on-the-job training and shadowing.

With our coaching and mentoring support, we emphasize the transition from being a technical expert to becoming a business leader, partner, and advisor. We have worked with CFOs and senior finance leaders who, just like you, needed an experienced, friendly and non-judgmental voice to get them to the other side of the financial spectrum.

Being at the top is lonely not just for the CEO but also for the CFO. Professional development for CFOs is typically geared towards the compliance side of finance.

This is a great opportunity for you to augment your CFO’s capabilities and offer this customized in-house and hands-on approach over a short period and get an important strategic program completed.

The NSS program incorporates a skill-set matrix methodology and an in-depth evaluation of your finance department’s capabilities. Both are critical components if your CFO is going to become a more active partner in the growth of your business.

Our well received coaching incorporates the project objectives, expectations and timeline with you and the executive team and is executed by the CFO with the assistance of an experienced NSS Growth Advisor with over 30+ years’ experience.

Please watch our Rudi Tuesday on Mentorship and give us a call to discuss our Coaching and Mentoring support further.

RudiTuesday Mentor

We are the only peer-to peer CFO group out there helping CFOs become more strategic and forward-looking. We work in a non-threatening, collegial way and are result driven to help your CFO be an effective partner to you and your business.

Staying status quo is not an option. If your incumbent CFO or Head of Finance cannot give you the decision-making support you need to grow and keep a competitive edge, then you are compromising the value of your business.

Call Bob Weber, Managing Director at NSS at 617. 449. 7728. He oversees the NSS Coaching and Mentoring program.