0 comments on “Social-media Savvy”

Social-media Savvy

So you’re ready to begin a social-media campaign. Or it’s time to re-evaluate your current metrics. Consider how the following might inform your next move:

Facebook

If your goal is to garner “likes” and “shares,” post on Thursdays (between 3:00-5:00 p.m.). If your post has travel-related content, Mondays and Tuesdays are better. Of course, the worst day to post (if “likes,” “shares,” and page views are your objective) is Saturday. Check out an article by Atiqur Rehman for more information. Also, of the big social-media platforms, the Facebook audience is most receptive to offers and giveaways.

Twitter

Use the Advanced Search function to identify market segments, target audiences, and trending hashtags, and to study your competition. One company on Twitter, @visually, constantly tweets about things that do not seem to have anything to do with their key product/service, which is content marketing. They do tweet about content marketing (every third or fourth tweet), but they also tweet about things like “how much sugar people should consume” or “what Americans spend their time doing in a typical day.” Again, their tweets do not have much to do with content marketing, but they are interesting. I suppose that, as one of their Twitter followers, as long as I continue to find their tweets interesting, I’ll associate interesting things with their brand.

Pinterest

Success on Pinterest does not seem reliant on native content as much as simply identifying good content and pinning it to your company’s boards. Businesses would do well to ruminate on what, specifically, their Pinterest boards are titled, as they need to be representative of the business. Also, if native content is created, it will likely perform better if it is bulleted, or if it is a three-step or five-step process.

Instagram

Simply posting links to your blog/offer/giveaway will likely be ineffective. Businesses must make an effort to drive Instagram users into their marketing funnel. This can be accomplished by creating a targeted landing page for Instagram users. Success on Instagram does not seem reliant on native content as much as simply identifying good content and posting it. However, in order to drive traffic from Instagram to your company website, you will need to compel people to click on, perhaps, a dedicated bit.ly link. Consider linking to an article that is somehow relevant to the photo, and then nudge the reader toward more of the content on your blog or toward your services. This might make the transition from Instagram to your website more seamless.


You needn’t become a social-media expert overnight. Arima Business Solutions has expert consultants in social-media management. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.

0 comments on “Financial Checkup Checklist”

Financial Checkup Checklist

Summer is here, which is the perfect time do a Financial Checkup for your business.  This article suggests tackling the “6 P’s” of a financial checkup.  In the Spring you have tax season and fiscal year-end reporting, so who has time?  In the Fall companies are making a push to finish strong to meet year-end quotas before new business shuts down for the holidays.  Winter is too late to effect change for the year, and it is hard to advance work when so many people are out on vacation (or sick!).  This makes the Summer a great time for a financial checkup.

What is a financial checkup exactly?  It could be a lot of things, but here are six ideas.  Pick three of them (one per category) to accomplish.  Show that you are committed to the financial health of your business, and your business will definitely thank you in return.

Business Model Review (do at least one)

  1. Plan – re-visit your business plan. The prior year financials (the key benchmark) should be final, so use it as the foundation for a refresh of your business plan.  Do it for current year and next year.  Add another year, and you have the coveted 3-year financial plan.

A Plan is great for:

  • businesses involved in a significant financial transaction.
  • businesses that consider great planning a key to their success.
  1. Projections – prepare quarterly forecasts to see what you think the business will look like in terms of revenue growth, operating profits (EBIDTA), working capital, and the capacity to service debt and distribute capital. These are all critical financial measures regarding the health of your business.

Projections are great for:

  • giving to banks and lenders so they become more comfortable and confident in your business.
  • owners and stakeholders, so they can see how today’s business will look tomorrow.
  • leaders and managers, who can use projections to set goals and measure results.

Profits and Cash Flow Review (do at least one)

  1. Performance Reports – this could include monthly or quarterly income statements or Profit & Loss (P&L) reports. Sales trends can be analyzed to see if new business is healthy or anemic.  P&Ls can calculate profit margins and expense ratios, to show how effective you are in managing costs relative to sales generated.  Many business leaders have little time to study detailed reports, so create one-sheet scorecards with infographs and bullet point summaries. Reports are of no use if they are not read.  Create a monthly production report package, to keep an ongoing pulse on the state of your business.

Performance Reports are great for:

  • managers and leaders that want accountability for business results.
  • sharing with stakeholders, banks, and lenders, to prove that you can articulate your business from a financial perspective.
  1. Profit Conversions – profits stuck in receivables are bad for cash flow and bad for your bank account. The longer the receivable is outstanding the less likely you will be able to collect.

Summer is great for getting your cash receipts in order.  Get backlogged invoices sent out promptly.  Review credit terms for down payment and installment billings, and revisit your financing and late fee policies.  Collect all open receivables.

Reviewing cash payments is equally important.  Set up a sensible weekly check run process.  Review credit terms of key suppliers, and negotiate them.  Examine vendor due dates to see who might accept a more favorable payment schedule.

You can never have too much cash on hand, and here you can boost cash without having to sell more or spend less.  You are simply managing your cash better.

Profit conversions are great for:

  • companies running a thin line with cash and working capital.
  • companies that are interested in building that emergency “cushion” for the unexpected.
  • companies that want to go from good to great in their cash management practices.

Resource Assessment

  1. People – you count on people to make your company perform. Is everyone on the team signed up for at least one educational or development class?  Are people allowed to work on a pet project that supports the company?  People are what make the difference, and investing in people is great for:
  • building morale and team spirit.
  • developing talent and skills inside the business, so you can outperform the competition.
  1. Platforms – along with people, your company systems make up the key resources to run your business. Use the Summer to identify all key systems the business relies on to operate.  It can vary by industry, but computer and data networks, accounting and payroll systems, customer and CRM systems, and online systems and tools are universally important to businesses large and small.  Are you able to make a case that all your systems are working seamlessly and smoothly?  Can your systems today support your future growth?  If you can’t answer confidently to these questions, a system review may be your key Summer project.

Platform reviews are great for:

  • companies wanting to run leaner to increase profits and optimize enterprise value.
  • companies managing change.
  • companies that plan to grow significantly.

  360 degrees of Small Business Solutions

Arima Business Solutions (ABS) is a business management consulting firm located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley.  We specialize in solving the most top-of-mind problems for small business owners.  We offer a deep skill set and know how on running the finances, operations, and marketing areas of a small business.  This makes ABS uniquely equipped to provide 360-degrees of client service.  Finance consultants often do strictly finance while marketing firms focus mainly on sales and branding.  The best solutions are balanced solutions, that examine not just one, but all of the key areas that are important to your business.

0 comments on “Be Uncompromising”

Be Uncompromising

Many Americans are familiar with the story of Henry Ford and his drive to produce the V-8. As the story goes, “When Henry Ford decided to produce his famous V-8 motor, he chose to build an engine with the entire eight cylinders cast in one block, and instructed his engineers to produce a design for the engine. The design was placed on paper, but the engineers agreed, to a man, that it was simply impossible to cast an eight-cylinder engine-block in one piece.”

Ford’s reply was simple: “Produce it anyway.”

A story that some may be less familiar with is the story of the Burj Al Arab. I’ve been there twice, and each time I’ve marveled at the achievement it represents. The Burj Al Arab is the iconic structure standing approximately 1,000 feet off the coast of Dubai, UAE.

burj al arab

Completed in 1999, the Burj al Arab was the tallest hotel in the world for several years. However, when the vision for this self-proclaimed 7-star hotel was conceived, the ruler of Dubai was told it was impossible.

It was to be a hotel that looked like the sail on a yacht, and it should appear to float atop an island. In the words of the guide who showed us around the property, “The lead architect was perplexed. He said, ‘I cannot create land. An island is not possible.’”

The ruler of Dubai simply replied: “You build it. Or I’ll find somebody who can.”

burj3

Sure enough, just as Ford’s engineers found a way to build the impossible V-8, the architect (along with an army of engineers) found a way to construct an artificial island that could support a hotel consisting of 70,000 cubic meters of concrete and 9,000 tons of steel.

There is a lot of emphasis placed on compromise, but it seems to work best when people are trying to avoid conflict or when they have shared goals. If you fancy yourself a dreamer, a visionary, or an entrepreneur, consider the cost of compromise. Sometimes it is essential to be uncompromising.

0 comments on “You and Your Banker”

You and Your Banker

Bankers are great. They tell it like it is. But in good times and in a good economy, it is easy for small businesses to take them for granted. If you have loans out there, it is easy to forget—or worse—ignore a banker’s request.

Meeting loan covenants and requests for information during good times and bad is critically important. Make sure you can answer these questions:

  1. Are you filing your quarterly loan covenant requirements consistently and on a timely basis?
  2. Is everything organized, complete, documented, and supported to ensure a high-quality submission?
  3. Are any questions that are asked, for whatever reason, responded to timely, completely, and accurately?

Loans will mature and the economy will tighten. It is too late to undo past bank compliance infractions, as the notes on late, incomplete, slow responses are already noted. But building a good track record going forward can make a positive difference. Good bank relations habits include:

  1. Meeting all loan covenant requirements completely and on a timely basis.
  2. Being very responsive, consistently, on any bank requests or questions.
  3. Meeting all interest and principal payments like clockwork.

All crucial banking activities, new loans, credit line increases, renewal of matured loans, forbearances, loan extensions, or re-structures must be underwritten anew with credit committee approval. To ensure you remain in good standing with your banker, understand the terms of your loan documents and loan covenants. They spell out the rules, and understanding them well can prevent being in default with your loan.

Having a CFO or financial leader focused on banking for your small business is a luxury. Who wouldn’t want to have that go-to person on staff to oversee and negotiate small business bank and lender relations? Unfortunately, many small businesses are not budgeted to have a full time CFO with banking credentials. But there are alternatives, such as management and financial consultants who can step in to affordably clean up and monitor the banking needs of your business.

This is the story of you and your banker. Let’s all be proactive to secure a “happily ever after.”

0 comments on “Heroes”

Heroes

I like to romanticize the hero. He dons a cape. She flies an invisible jet. It is not a flea but The Tick!

The truth, though, with due deference to Comic-Con fans, is that the real heroes are first-responders, fire fighters, police officers, and members of the armed forces. They are people who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us, to assist us, or to save us.

But there are other heroes. Few organizations classify their strongest assets as heroes, but we should aspire to be the workplace hero.

“Calculation never made a hero.” —John Henry Newman

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”     —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Workplace heroes share common characteristics.

Ownership

Heroes of the office ooze ownership, also known as accountability. They don’t pass the buck. They consider excuses an abomination. And they are most empowered when something goes wrong and they take responsibility for it.

Commitment

Workplace heroes do not simply start something, only to let others finish it. If it means staying later, listening longer, or starting over again, they do what must be done. They know the difference between delegation and fulfillment.

Heart

Heroes execute from the head, as well as their heart. They bring passion into the workplace. This is consistent with the Dicky Fox message in Jerry Maguire: “If this is empty (he points to his heart), this doesn’t matter (he whacks himself on the head).”

Consider ownership, commitment, and heart. How might these characteristics compel you to become the workplace hero?

0 comments on “Work Ethic”

Work Ethic

“I shine ’cause I grind” is the chorus for a Crime Mob song that is on my playlist. On especially tough days, I’ll click my iPod to that song, and I’ll repeat the chorus over and over: “I shine ’cause I grind, I shine ’cause I grind.”

Like most things, you have to look for the motivation. But sift through the verses of this song, and you find the line: “I got an aura about myself, and that’s greatness.”

It’s funny, but I still remember the look on my colleague’s face when I told her (after a long training run) that it was a mental victory. She was perplexed. And I proceeded to explain that I wasn’t motivated to train that day. (This was exercise, not business training, but both have a lot in common.)

Her response was perfectly warranted: “But you LOVE to train!”

Sometimes we forget that people bear witness mainly to our actions, and rarely do they get a glimpse of the inner battle, the war declared between body and mind. Sure, there are almost always moments during training that are “perfect.” They are Ferlinghetti’s rebirth, a renaissance of wonder. You’re weightless, in flight, one with the Earth’s rotation.

But often it is a battle to get out that door and onto the track, or the bike, or the pool deck.

Like many things I know are good for me—eating broccoli, watching a TED Talk, cleaning the house, bathing—sometimes I’m simply not in the mood.

And that’s where you must have strategies in place in order to set yourself in motion. Momentum, as they say, is a cruel mistress.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” —Thomas Edison

“A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.” —Alistair Cook

So what is your plan?

Visualization

Ask yourself, “How will I feel once I’m finished?” (I even go as far as “feeling” that sense of fulfillment and accomplishment before I’ve begun).

Motivation

Watch motivational YouTube videos. There are so many videos (2-3 minutes each) that might compel you to start moving.

Transformation

Try to change from the outside in. Get all of your gear on so that even if you don’t feel like an athlete, an entrepreneur, a CEO, a top-performer, you look like one. (Of course, if these things don’t work for you, do not ever underestimate the power of caffeine.)

I stand by this quotation: “Luck is the last dying wish of those who believe winning can happen by accident. Sweat, on the other hand, is a choice.” If you are at the top of your game (as an athlete, or as a parent, or as a professional), or if you are striving to reach the top of your game, then you likely have something in common with those committed to performing optimally. You are consistent. You do what you need to do, especially when you don’t want to do it. In other words, you shine ’cause you grind.

And because you do, “You got an aura about yourself, and that’s greatness.”

0 comments on “The Negotiator”

The Negotiator

I am an expert negotiator.

Sure, I may pay full price for a car. I may get gouged for a water heater or a new air-conditioning unit. And I certainly lose most of the negotiations with my wife.

However, when I negotiate with myself, I always win.

Let me explain.

I train (exercise) everyday (with rare exception). Before I begin, I’ve already begun the negotiations. “Next item up for business: you planned to run 6 miles. Are you going to run 6 miles?” And then the process begins. It’s like an epic courtroom drama, the slick defense attorney vs. the conservative prosecutor.

Once I begin the run, the negotiations continue. Of course, the moment I sense a twang in my right knee or a ping in my left foot, it’s like a new exhibit has been entered into evidence.

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.” —Vince Lombardi

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” —Henry Ford

Sometimes I can convince myself to complete the 6 miles. Other times, I’ve negotiated a new outcome, one that realizes itself at around 3 or 4 miles. The evidence is almost always compelling: “You don’t want to get injured. Better to play it safe.”

While I think this process is healthy, it’s important to be conscious of one thing: do not allow your negotiations to become one-sided. In other words, if you’re regularly negotiating downwards (turning a 50-mile ride into a 30-miler, a 4,000 yard swim into 2,500), you must make sure to also negotiate upwards. On the days when you feel good, extend your bike ride, add an extra 20 minutes to your swim session, or run a couple extra loops around the block. And make sure this mindset transcends the treadmill and finds its way into your professional life. Negotiate upwards at work by minding the power of questions, daily goals, and self-talk:

Questions

Ask yourself carefully-crafted questions. “What can I do to increase productivity today?” “What can I do right now to help meet this quarter’s revenue goals?” The answers to these questions will help compel you to go forward.

Daily Goals

I like to jot these down in the morning, and if I’m spending a lot of time in front of a computer, I’ll put a Post-it Note or two onto the monitor to keep me focused on that day’s goals. Also, I’ll make an effort to visualize the attainment of these goals during morning meditation. Clear awareness of your daily goals should help you negotiate upwards, as daily goals should promote purpose.

Self-talk

Be mindful of your self-talk. As Lao Tzu noted, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions; Watch your actions; they become habits.” As you negotiate throughout the day, nudge your self-talk toward affirmation and optimism, employing language like “You can do this. Dig deep. Just make one more call.”

It’s okay to be an expert negotiator. But a real expert should be good at getting the most out of every negotiation.

0 comments on “Attention: Small Businesses who are LA Sports Fans”

Attention: Small Businesses who are LA Sports Fans

There is nothing like a fun day at the ballgame with your favorite client or hot prospect.  Grabbing a beer and a dog to build that relationship . . . what client or prospect wouldn’t want that invitation?

Figuring out how to use that limited marketing budget can be a slippery slope.  Does this key individual even like sports and if so, how do I determine which sport he or she is a fan of?  It might be easiest to simply ask.  But why not do some simple market analytics first, to get a better idea of local fan-base tastes and tendencies by various demographics?

This chart below, from the LA Times sports page, inspired me to put a little more thought into this. JA blog - LA sports teams infograph (1)

I like this infograph, as it is brief, clear, and provides good information in easily digested form.  I learned a couple of things very quickly.  The popularity of the Lakers is declining, but they are still the hottest ticket in town.  The Rams (“the same old Rams!”) are more popular with African-American Baby Boomers.  84% of Asian Americans prefer either the Dodgers or Lakers, and Latinos tend to bleed “Dodger Blue” more than other ethnicities.

Buying tickets to whatever event requires some level of planning.  For example, season ticket commitments occur long before the season starts.  Instead of blindly guessing how to allocate the client and prospect marketing budget, many small businesses reach out to boutique consulting firms to obtain market research to make better and more informed decisions.  Tickets are not cheap, so everyone wants to hit the bullseye the best they can.

It would be nice if there is an affordable and fast delivery of Infographics that cater to the specific and often unique target markets of your small business.  Local financial consultants understand the local market, including the trends and tendencies of sports team popularity by demographic.  Pulling data from the overwhelming but useful data available today, then organizing and distilling it using spreadsheets and graphs that are read and not ignored by your audience, is doable today at a low cost and low burden.

The local sports market is in the midst of further recent disruption.  Layered onto the LA Rams move from St. Louis is the pending moves of the Raiders (Oakland to Las Vegas) and Chargers (San Diego to LA).  This volatility is compelling many small businesses to seek experts to guide their navigation of the shifting LA sports team landscape.  Sharpening your decisions through high quality and productive market research and analysis supports the high profit margin, high growth, and maximized marketing ROI financial models of premier small businesses.

0 comments on “Like Stone”

Like Stone

On the front cover of this month’s The Costco Connection is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. She is pictured up close, in focus, donning a black leather jacket and blue jeans. Behind her, in soft focus, is the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV.

If 19th century feminist Lucy Stone (1818-1893) saw this, would she be surprised? After all, Stone was the first woman in Massachusetts to earn a college degree (she attended Oberlin College in Ohio), but when asked to write the commencement speech for her graduating class, she refused. Her speech would have to be read by a man. Women were prohibited from giving a public address.

The uncompromising Stone searched until she found a venue that would provide her with an opportunity to speak publicly. Her brother allowed her to speak from the pulpit of his church in Gardner, Massachusetts. And the topic of Stone’s first public address? Women’s rights.

Too much has already been said and written about women’s sphere. Leave women, then, to find their sphere. —Lucy Stone

To make the public sentiment, on the side of all that is just and true and noble, is the highest use of life. —Lucy Stone

In the study of success, in the study of legacy, we can learn from Lucy Stone.  What did she do to effect change?

Persist

When the Bible was quoted to Lucy Stone in defense of gender inequality, she (according to Jone Johnson Lewis) “declared that when she grew up, she’d learn Greek and Hebrew so she could correct the mistranslation that she was sure was behind such verses!”

Takeaway: In business as in life, when we know our truth to be THE truth, we mustn’t acquiesce. We must go over, go under, or go around. We must find a way, for truth can become compromise, and compromise can become apathy. Stay strong. Persist. And remember, as declared by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “My life is not an apology.”

Champion

To walk a righteous path but not know where it’s leading . . . is a mistake. To champion a cause, however, indicates a defined goal or objective. Stone championed women’s rights, something she focused on until the end. In fact, as she lay dying, she uttered these four final words to her daughter: “Make the world better.”

Takeaway: In business as in life, we can spend much of our day simply fighting to keep our head above water. We wrestle with our life-preserver in an effort to stay afloat; meanwhile, we make little progress toward our objective.

  1. Make sure to have an over-arching goal; in other words, champion a cause for your company or for your life. (Answering all of your emails, returning voicemails, and attending the morning meeting with Client X and the afternoon meeting with Colleague Y might be the professional equivalent of flailing your arms to keep water out of your nose so that you don’t drown! Only you know if what you do each day is helping you progress toward attaining your over-arching goal.)
  2. Once you have your over-arching goal, you can begin with the end in mind. Certainly, your day will require allocation to maintenance. But make sure to set aside time for growth as well. Remember, maintenance is what you have to do to stay afloat. Growth is what you must assert if you ever want peace.

Would your business benefit from a nudge in this direction? ABS Professional Services consultants are eager to meet with you. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.

0 comments on “Travel Now”

Travel Now

Imagine this: you are at home, twiddling your thumbs, looking at a calendar free from responsibilities and action items. (You have all of the time in the world!) Suddenly, you see an alert on your phone—it’s from your bank, kindly informing you that you’ve exceeded the maximum daily amount allowed in a checking account. (You have too much money!) So you reach for a globe and start spinning the Earth, giddy about all of the countries you can now visit.

NEWS FLASH: This imagined scenario will likely die when you do.

The bad news? It will never be the right time to travel.

The good news? If you accept that it will never be the right time to travel, then you can start traveling now.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” —J.R.R. Tolkien

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” —Susan Sontag

Relaxation

Perhaps you want to unwind, disconnect, relax. Maybe La Paz, Mexico or a private island in the Maldives is what you’re looking for. (An over-the-water bungalow in the Maldives is less than you’d think. And worth every penny!)

Excitement

Maybe you simply need some excitement in your life. Consider the Fiesta de San Fermin (drinking lots of red wine, throwing tomatoes, and running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain). Or go sand-boarding (outside) and snowboarding (inside) in Dubai. Or check out the wild pandas in Chengdu or the mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

Food

Is it food you’re looking for? Go to Tokyo. Or Sicily. Or Buenos Aires. Or Seoul. Take a cooking class on the island of Ko Samui, Thailand. Remember this: you are a citizen of the world. Eat like it.

Do you have extreme time constraints? We have people on staff who’ve traveled from the USA to Tokyo . . . in a weekend. Think it’s crazy? Perhaps it is, but once you’re ready to start stacking experiences instead of possessions, you may find that Bogotá, Seoul, and yes, Tokyo, are within reach for those with a dream itinerary and a three-day weekend!

Sometimes it’s not our finances. It’s not our schedule. It’s our mindset. If you’d benefit from what Zig Ziglar referred to as a “check-up from the neck up,” reach out to us. Perhaps we can help. And if anything, many of our consultants are travelers who will take great pleasure in telling you about their travels, so that you can start designing yours.