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

 

Happy Thanks to Many Givings

My Favorite Thanksgiving Poem

Let Us Give Thanks by Max Coots

Let us give thanks for a bounty of people:

For children who are our second planting, and, though they grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away, may they forgive us our cultivation and fondly remember where their roots are.

Let us give thanks:

For generous friends…with hearts as big as hubbards and smiles as bright as their blossoms;

For feisty friends as tart as apples;

For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us we had them;

For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn — and the others — as plain as potatoes, and so good for you.

For funny friends, who are as silly as brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, and serious friends as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions.

For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who — like parsnips — can be counted on to see you through the long winter;

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes; 

For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils, and hold us despite our blights, wilts, and witherings;

And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past, that have been harvested — but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter;

For all these we give thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving to All!

thanksgiving

Dog Day Afternoons

BrunsliSmallMy dog Brunsli is not fazed by the hot and humid weather, she just sleeps it away in the cooled house! Hope you are staying cool! Lots responded to my Lemonade request and it has been great to catch up with so many. It is still hot enough to have Lemonade, so don’t be shy….

This has been a summer of many distractions and also points to pause. Europe with its Brexit, multiple terrorist attacks, Deutsche Bank possibly in need of a bail out and overall currency fluctuations. This may indeed affect your business if you are doing business in Europe.

Here we are in the middle of the US presidential campaigns. It is not politics as usual……or is it?

Last week I attended the funeral of a client and dear colleague, Kevin Gosnell. Kevin was the CEO of T&K Asphalt Services, loving husband of Kathleen and father of three handsome sons. He died of ALS after a 15-month battle. What is so remarkable about Kevin is that once he was diagnosed with the incurable disease, he pulled out all plugs and decided to use his leadership skills from running his company and the Vistage group we shared, and bring the fragmented medical community together to pool funding and speed up research through ALS One with the hope to eventually have a cure. Take a look of the videos and support this great cause. Kevin is a hero in my eyes in how he took is death sentence public and made an incredible difference in a very short time. RIP Kevin and healing thoughts to his family.

Life intertwines with business as we all know. I am sure you are looking for the balance the way I have and figuring out where to draw the line. Take a moment these last few days of summer to reflect on where you are, what is good and what is possible to change.

Have you taken a closer look at the internal and external risks of your business? Most internal risks you can actually eliminate. What succession plans do you have in place?

Externally, mitigating risks for your business can be tricky, but being aware of the potential economic risks and implementing some buffers into your financial plans is a good strategy to consider.

Here is a blog post that may help you get started
https://nssblog.com/2015/11/09/de-risk-your-business/

Want to have a conversation over lemonade call me at 781-929-9125.
In the meantime, stay cool, Rudi

Every CEO Faces Agility Issues

Our 3rd CEO Leadership Event of our 3-part Series at the Lanam Club, Andover

Wed, May 18th from 12noon – 2pm- JOIN US!

HOW DO SMART COMPANIES GROW?

What can we learn from fast growth businesses and why you need to know?  What is the fundamental path to growth in a fast paced business environment? Here are the 3 Reasons:

  1. The economic picture will continue to change, both internationally and nationally, affecting all businesses small and large. EVERY business needs to understand how to become more adaptive and agile against this volatility to survive.
  2. How do fast growth businesses adapt daily to these external changes and how do they keep their businesses agile? The CEOs will describe the different stages of growth and how it affects their culture; how they go about finding the right people, a challenge we all face.
  3. Come and hear how the digitized world helped them and what YOU can apply to your business today!  An industry agnostic approach.

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

SniderNSS

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

 

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

Improve Your Profitability

Is Profitability on your Radar for 2016?  Improving YOUR bottom line is near and dear to us at Next Stage Solutions. Bragging is not our thing, yet we are very proud of our accomplishments over the years.

Next Stage Solutions professionals work with CEOs who want to increase and optimize the profitability of their existing and potential operations.

Our strategies in finance and operations generally have improved the bottom line by 30% or more in our assignments.

As experts in finance and operations we recognize improvements, which can be readily achieved.

Examples:

  • We increased the use of an existing business processing system from 35% to 75%. The resulting automation and efficiency enabled our client to reallocate two full time employees to pressing needs in the organization.
  • We implemented a monthly forecast process, which resulted in a reduction of backorders, increased customer satisfaction, and eliminated unnecessary expediting costs.  This execution resulted in an immediate increase in EBITDA, while providing much more accurate forecasts.
  • We matched our clients’ workforce with the appropriate Workers’ Comp Insurance and negotiated a 33% annual reduction in premiums.

In all three examples we greatly exceeded our clients’ expectations.

What is your focus for 2016? If profit optimization is on your radar, contact me. I will be happy to share more examples with you to consider and as always, to start a conversation.

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