I am always amazed how fast the evenings darken in October and how it prepares us mentally to get ready for the next stage – the fall!

Our readers experience the same as Business Owners, CEO’s and Advisors. Nature has its cycles and so do businesses, although with the business you have a choice in how to prepare and plan.

Advisory Boards for private companies are becoming more popular as CEO’s and Business Owners realize that investing in a board that focuses on the company’s future success can have exponential results if set up properly and with a purpose.
I have had the honor to be interviewed on just that subject and the podcast is now live. It is with great pleasure to introduce you to Alexander Lowry. He is a finance faculty member and executive director of the graduate program in financial analysis at Gordon College.

In the Boardroom Bound podcast, board aficionado Alexander Lowry brings listeners into the boardroom to hear tips, tactics and strategies from brilliant business minds and seasoned board members. Listeners will glean insight into the necessary branding, marketing, leadership and corporate governance skills as well as the business, strategic and financial acumen to lead every sphere – from nonprofit to startup to corporate environments.
Listen to the Podcast Episode 37

My book “Stop Compromising” has been hugely successful in reaching readers. The feedback continues to be positive and I am delighted to have stirred up many meaningful conversations. In chapter 4, I discuss the very topic in how to build an Advisory Board for your company.
For my readers, YOU, I offer a special rate and will also autograph the book for you. You can purchase it for $19.95 from Amazon and have it on your desk in no time.
Purchase Book

Interview about my book with Mary Adams, Executive Director of XPX Global. XPX (Exit Planning Exchange) focuses in business value growth, business value transfer and owner life and legacy.



by Jeffrey Deckman, a serial entrepreneur for 30+ years in the technology and human capital fields. As the founder of Capability Accelerators, he is the creator of the Bigger Know Principles of Leadership which teach the modern executive the new leadership skills required to maximize the ROI from their human capital investments.

Nothing is the same in the new, post-industrial, information/knowledge age economy.

In the industrial age economy assembly line thinking, mass production and repetitive processes drove profits. Linearity, formulas and 5 to 7 year plans ruled the day.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, the relative stability and predictability of the industrial age is gone forever. Mind searing changes in technology as well as unprecedented levels of disruptive and game changing innovations have turned strict reliance upon “linearity, predictability and 5 to 7 year plans” into severe liabilities.

In addition, technology and the expectations of the modern client has made agility, innovation, collaboration and “5 Star” customer service key factors that determine success or failure for the modern company. These are all human capital centric activities.

The combination of these two unprecedented changes is forcing both CEO’s and CFO’s to shift from a predominantly process oriented mindset to a “Systems Thinking” mindset. And since innovation, creativity, collaboration and customer service are all employee driven activities, they are being challenged to exhibit excellent collaboration, communication and cooperation skills.

This means they must develop their EQ to go along with their already high IQ if they want to play a role in maximizing EBITDA.

Garth Saloner, the Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business in a recent Gallup interview was asked what attributes CEO’s were looking for from those being recruited from their MBA program. The summation of his answer was that they were looking for people who had excellent “soft skills”.

Almost anyone can learn formulas, processes and the “hard skills” of business. But to be effective in the modern world CFO’s must not only “play nice with others” but they must also become proactive catalysts for collaboration, who think and plan strategically.

Being a CFO is no longer just about number crunching. The new CFO 2.0 will operate like “shadow CEOs” who adopt Systems Thinking and who become experts at leveraging both the financial capital and the human capital of the organization to maximize the ROI of both assets.

The new economy is forcing both the CEO and the CFO community to think very differently or face being left behind. Of the two, I think it may be the CFO community who will more challenged to make this adjustment.

The modern business world requires a lot of right brain activity from highly left brained individuals.

The good news is in my work with CEO’s and CFO’s I have seen that once they see the LOGIC in adapting the new ways of thinking and begin learning the new collaborative leadership SYSTEMS they can employ, their progress is quick and it sticks. Then the results keep them motivated to master these skills.

A company that is fortunate to have both a CEO and a CFO that are Systems Thinkers and master collaborators will secretly possess one of the most competitive advantages imaginable and will be rewarded with prosperity.

The emergence of the new CFO 2.0 will redefine the modern organization.

CEOs Secret Weapon:Identify & Mitigate Risk for Successful Decision-Making

CEO Workshop Co-Sponsored by Next Stage Solutions and Adaptive Planning



Wednesday, October 9, 2013 | 10:30am – 12:30pm

Host: Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, P.C. at CityPoint 230 Third Avenue, 4th Floor Waltham, MA 02451

Register Today!

With the proper approach and correct decision tools, CRITICAL business decisions can be clearly defined, analyzed, and successfully executed by the leadership of any organization.  CRITICAL DECISIONS include:

  • Acquisition or Merger
  • New Product Launch
  • Key Technology Purchase
  • Strategic Alliance/Partnerships
  • New R&D Project
  • Major Capital Investment
  • Sales Force Expansion/Re-Alignment

Overall Approach:

  • Identification of Business Assumptions/Rationale
  • Key Business Drivers
  • Comprehensive Analysis
  • Sensitivity Testing (What-if Scenarios)
  • Executive Summation
  • Post-Decision Follow-up & Outcome Comparison

The NSS value proposition as growth advisors provides the structured approach and oversight for critical decision, making, while Adaptive Planning provides the tools and methodology of effective decision support.

Adaptive Planning is the worldwide leader in cloud-based business analytics solutions for companies of all sizes. The company’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform enables finance and executive team collaboration in planning, monitoring, reporting, and analyzing financial and operational performance.

What CEOs need to know before Acquiring a Business

Today’s highly competitive marketplace, CEOs continually face the rigorous challenges and uncertainties of critical decisions to grow their businesses profitably. Acquiring a new business can be an effective means to achieve a company’s strategic grow goals. Although there are many tangible benefits in adopting an acquisition strategy, the process can be a very time-consuming, stressful, and distracting experience for the leadership of an organization. With proper planning, valuation, and execution a company can reduce risks and maximize their value creation.

Video Highlights:

NSS provides CEO Workshops as part of a continuing series of educational forums where CEOs participate in peer-to-peer exchanges of ideas and thought leadership. Most recently a group of CEOs and M&A specialists provided insights and expertise on acquisition goals, trends, and methods employed by successful companies. Panel participants included seasoned advisors and executives from WilmerHale, Alcon Partners, Consilium Partners, Guardair Corporation, and Next Stage Solutions discussing the following on what CEOs should know:

  • Clearly define your strategic goals and have a strong rationale for making an acquisitions.
  • Evaluate your options before committing Company resources (alliances, partnerships, licenses etc.)
  • Planning is critical; must conduct extensive due diligence upfront
  • Strategic Fit – examine impact on organization, customers, & stakeholders
  • Engage key advisors to reduce risks and maximize value creation
  • Competition is still pretty tight – expect to pay what you are looking to acquire
  • Involve the right people to objectively review and make the right decisions
  • Adhere to clearly defined processes, procedures, and guidelines
  • Always be prepared to say “NO” and move on to next opportunity
  • Identify Integration Strategy and resources needed to execute the plan
  • Ensure financial model includes best case, most likely case, and worst case scenari

Contact us to set up a meeting to discuss your initiatives at 617.  449.  7728 or email us at



What CEOs must know about New Standards for Revenue Recognition

Revenue Recognition Principles as Promulgated in 2013

By Derek A. Smith, Managing Director, Next Stage Solutions, Inc. He is a CPA and Chartered Accountant and was a member of the AICPA Board of Examiners from 1998 to 2006.  The BOE sets the CPA examination. Contact:

Major Changes to Consider The New Standard in 5 Steps
  • Affects both Public and Private companies

  • Must run parallel accounting systems for at least 2 years( private companies) and 3 years (public companies)

  • New standard is Principled based not Rules based

  • There is an opportunity for Judgment

  1. There must be a contract (either oral or written) with the customer
  2. The contract must spell out the separate performance obligations;
  3. The transaction price must be determinable;
  4. The transaction price must be allocatable to the separate performance obligations in the contract; and
  5. Individual performance obligation revenue will be recognized upon satisfaction of the individual performance obligation.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) and the International Accounting Standards Board (“IASB”) have at long last completed their deliberations on the establishment of revenue recognition principles that are common wherever US GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) are applied. The new standard will most likely be published in the second quarter of 2013. The new standard will be effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2016 for public companies and December 15, 2017 for private companies. Entities will have the option to apply the standard retrospectively or to adjust opening retained earnings for the cumulative effect of accounting for contracts that are not completed under legacy GAAP at the adoption date.

Under US GAAP today there are at least eight different sources for determining how to account for revenue (for example ASC 985-605, Software: Revenue Recognition; ASC 605-35, Revenue Recognition: Construction-Type and Production-Type Contracts; and ASC 932-605 Extractive Activities – Oil and Gas: Revenue Recognition). These will all be replaced by the new standard.

Why you want to start sooner rather than later

While the launch date may seem far off, companies and their management teams need to understand that systems and processes are going to need adjustment to satisfy the
new guidelines. It is not appropriate to use an Excel spreadsheet to track the reporting obligations. Further, for any company that provides comparative financial statements, the results for the earlier periods will need to be recalibrated if the company applies the standard retrospectively. Public companies have to provide three years of comparative Statements of Activities.

What is the New Standard?

The core principle of the new standard is that “an entity shall recognize revenue that depicts the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods and services”. While there are some exceptions, the standard will apply to most transactions with customers.

The New Standard in 5 Steps

The new standard has five steps an entity must take in determining the recognition of revenue. They are as follows:

  1. There must be a contract (either oral or written) with the customer;
  2. The contract must spell out the separate performance obligations;
  3. The transaction price must be determinable;
  4. The transaction price must be allocatable to the separate performance obligations in the contract;
  5. Individual performance obligation revenue will be recognized upon satisfaction of the individual performance obligation.

1. Contract with a Customer

A contract must have commercial substance; the parties are committed to perform their respective obligations; each of the parties can identify their rights regarding the goods or services to be transferred; and the entity providing the goods or services can identify the payment terms for effecting the transfer. The standard addresses contract modifications and add-on obligations.

2. Separate Performance Obligations

The final standard will provide specific guidance on evaluating the goods and services in a contract to identify each separate performance obligation. While the final standard will not define goods or services, it will provide several examples including goods produced for sale, granting a license, and performing contractual acts. A good or service will represent a separate performance obligation if it meets both of the following criteria:

(i) It is capable of being distinct (that is, the customer can benefit from the good or service on its own or with other readily available resources); and

(ii) It is distinct in the context of the contract (that is, it is not highly dependent or highly interrelated with other promised goods or services).

The final standard will include other indicators (or similar indicators) of whether a good or service is distinct in the context of the contract.

3. Transaction Price

The third step in applying the new standard is to determine the transaction price. That is, an entity must determine the amount of consideration to which it expects to be entitled in exchange for the promised goods or services in the contract. The transaction price can be a fixed amount or can vary because of discounts, rebates, refunds, credits, incentives, performance bonuses/penalties, contingencies, price concessions, outcome-based fees, or other similar items. Under this model, an entity would estimate the transaction price by considering the effect of variable consideration, the time value of money (if a significant financing component is deemed to exist), noncash consideration, and consideration payable to the customer. Entities would use a probability-weighted approach to estimate a transaction price that is subject to variability (expected value) or an approach based on the single most likely amount, whichever is more predictive of the amount to which the entity would be entitled.

Note: Contingent consideration would only be included in the transaction price when an entity has a “high level of certainty” that the amount of revenue to be recognized would not be subject to future reversals.

4. Allocating the Transaction Price

Next, the entity must allocate the transaction price to the separate performance obligations. When a contract contains more than one separate performance obligation, an entity would allocate the transaction price to each separate performance obligation on a relative stand-alone selling price basis (with certain limited exceptions). The standard will note that the best evidence of stand-alone selling price is the price at which the good or service is sold separately by the entity. If the good or service is not sold separately, an entity will be required to estimate it by using an approach that maximizes the use of observable inputs. Acceptable estimation methods will include, but are not limited to, expected cost plus a margin, adjusted market assessment, and a residual approach (when the selling price is highly variable or uncertain)

5. Recognition of Revenue

The fifth and final step in the model is to recognize revenue when (or as) each separate performance obligation is satisfied. A performance obligation is deemed satisfied when control of the underlying goods or services (the “assets”) for the particular performance obligation is transferred to the customer. “Control” is defined under the proposed model as “the ability to direct the use of and obtain substantially all of the remaining benefits from the asset” underlying the good or service. In applying the proposed model, an entity will first evaluate whether control of a good or service is transferred over time. A performance obligation is deemed to be satisfied over time (i.e., control of the good or service is transferred over time) when at least one of the following is met:

The entity’s performance creates or enhances an asset (for example, work in process) that the customer controls as the asset is created or enhanced.

The customer receives and consumes the benefits of the entity’s performance as the entity performs, and another entity would not need to substantially re-perform the work the entity has completed to date.

The entity’s performance does not create an asset with an alternative use to the entity and the entity has a “right to payment for performance completed to date.”

If any of the criteria are met, an entity would be required to recognize revenue over time as control of the goods or services is transferred to the customer. In such case, an entity would recognize revenue by measuring progress toward satisfying the performance obligation in a manner that best depicts the transfer of goods or services to the customer. The standard will provide specific guidance on measuring progress toward completion, including the use and application of output and input methods.

Note: There is no reference to collectability of the revenue as currently exists in US GAAP. While there has to be a reasonable expectation of collectability the new standard does not impose a threshold such as “reasonably assured”. The standard setters have stated that any provision for bad debts must be prominently disclosed within operating expenses.

Other Considerations

As with any new standard, there are other items to consider in implementing the standard. They include the required disclosures to be included in the financial statements (hint: they are onerous), and for US companies the impact on accounting for income tax obligations. For example, the Internal Revenue Code addresses advance payments for goods and services and income from long-term contracts. Entities will need to evaluate how the new revenue recognition principles reconcile with income for tax purposes.

Next Steps

Discuss this issue and potential opportunity with your CFO at your earliest convenience.  For further information, please don’t hesitate to contact your Next Stage Solutions partner. It is not too soon to begin addressing the accounting and operational processes required to be modified to be in compliance with the new standard.

Growth Strategies need Effective Execution

Growth Strategies need Effective Execution
by Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions, Inc. (NSS)

Most companies have been experiencing flat growth over the past few years.  Developing a dynamic strategy for your business is now more important than ever given the current uncertain market conditions.  Equally important is that you execute your strategy with the highest level of effectiveness and champion change throughout the organization.

Implementing your strategy with optimal precision will have dramatic affects on your top and bottom line.  But how will you know if the strategy is working and how will you measure your results? You want to create a set of relevant and actionable metrics for your management team and department heads to closely monitor the organization’s progress.

The following 5 steps will give you a competitive edge and enable you to seek market opportunities otherwise unattainable.

1) Know the contribution margins of each segment of your business.

Fully understand the contribution margins of each product and services line before finalizing your sustainability and growth strategy. This lets you focus on the segments that are most profitable and lets you promote change the lines that are draining your resources.

2) Have the appropriate business processes and infrastructure in place to scale the business.

Companies have reduced costs to bare bones, yet for continuous growth and stability you must have a right-sized infrastructure and critical processes in place that must be adhered to. Consider the 80/20 Rule, striving for only 20% customization for any business segment.  

3) Maintain real-time information flow for optimal decision making.

Making decisions on 30-day old financial information and operational results is no longer adequate.  Determine the value drivers for your business, rather than the traditional accounting exercise of budget versus actuals.  They tell you only a piece of the puzzle.

4) Identify and monitor your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Key performance metrics are necessary to measure performance and success.  The KPIs you choose will keep you focused and on track and most importantly, will allow you to make quick changes if necessary.

5) Balance your Executive Team between vision and execution

Your strategy is only as good as your implementation process.  Your executive team must have a clear plan with the appropriate Sales/Operations/Organizations/Finance resources to execute the vision and strategy of your growth plan.  A milestone management plan with specific metrics for each of the four areas of your business must be created and put in place.  Monitoring the progress closely is vital so that necessary changes can be made quickly and without losing momentum and market share.

Stick to the above 5 criteria to make sure your strategy is implemented effectively and adhered to stringently.  Evaluate the strength and weaknesses of your executive team and source the additional support with the appropriate senior level expertise to have a balanced team that is action and value driven.

Next Stage Solutions works with mid sized and small companies providing the financial acumen and business insight necessary to compete in the global marketplace.  NSS understands the necessary change needed throughout the organization to achieve top and bottom line growth.

617. 449. 7728                                                           

NSS CEO Workshop | Mock Board Meetings with CEOs | Sept 27

NSS Workshop Series for CEOs and Business Owners

CEO Workshops are part of our continuing series of educational forums where CEO’s participate in peer to peer exchanges of ideas and thought leadership. We focus on the CEO’s role as the center of the business.  Professional Advisors may attend if accompanied by a CEO or Business Owner. No solicitations allowed.

Planning Growth:  Looking Back 6| Moving Forward 12

When: Thursday | September 27 | 10:30am – 12:30pm |

Light Lunch Sponsored by NSS client

Host: Gray, Gray and Gray at 35 Southwest Park, Westwood, MA 02090



Join us for 4 Mock Board Meetings addressing strengths, opportunities and threats for the upcoming 12 months while reflecting on the past 6 months. Each CEO, teamed up with a CFO, chooses a challenge they are faced with and a course of action.

They then present the solution to the ‘board’ that will examine, question and probe the team from different angles.  The audience (shareholders) will add questions and comments and vote at the end whether or not to approve the course of action then will vote the solution a go or no-go.


Mobile | George Adams, CEO of ViziApps, Inc and NSS CFO Derek Smith

Life Sciences | Bonnie Fendrock, Co-Founder of Hepregen, Inc and NSS CFO Bob Weber

Healthcare | Patrice Lamour, CEO of  Lamour by Design, Inc and NSS CFO Frank Bahl

Retail | Mike Savage, CEO of FitnessEM, Inc and NSS CFO Ben Weller

Board Chair: Carol Kunik, Coach for Vistage International will lead the panel of experts as board chair

Expert Panel as Board Members:

Neal Yanofsky, Strategic Partner at New Delta Partners will focus on the overall planned growth and how to realistically achieve it.

Michael Cecere, Partner at Gray, Gray & Gray will consider the tax implications of your solution.

Michael LaCascia, Partner at WilmerHale will stress the importance of looking at acquisitions for growth

Shelley Hall, Managing Director of Catalytic Management will be looking for a sound sales strategy and a strong emphasis on customer relations.

Larry Stybel, VP of Board Options, Inc will want to see a solid talent acquisition and retention plan in place.

Jay Karamourtopoulos, Senior Vice President Relationship Manager at CitiBank will consider the capital market status as an opportunity to growth.


  • 4  Mock Board Sessions
  • 15 minutes Board meeting
  • 5 minutes for Shareholders (Audience) to ask questions, then take a vote

Quote from last event:

“I did find the panel format lively and a very relevant topic for my client”  – Debra J. Drapalla,  SVP Commercial Banking, Webster Bank

VIDEOS from our last Workshop with 23 CEOs attending

We hope you can join us to witness the energy, seriousness and enthusiasm and to take back some new ideas in how to grow your business.