Q1 Review Time: Goals, Closing, Tasks

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It’s almost the end of the first quarter of 2021. Hard to believe. That was quick!

Let’s take a look at a few things you should be reviewing as the quarter comes to a close.

Goals and Targets

Business leaders who want to have strong and profitable businesses tend to set big goals for the year, and often, per quarter.  How did you do with your goals?  I’m slightly behind on a couple of the “Rocks” (high priorities) that I intended to get done by the end of this quarter.  I still have a couple of weeks to turn up the heat and get them done, and so do you!

How are your financial results so far? Are you close to where you thought you’d be? There’s still time!

Q1 is tough for us accounting types. There’s a lot of activity, including closing the prior year, meetings with your CPA, preparing for taxes, finalizing your budget and goals, and communicating with your team.  It’s not unusual to miss some targets in Q1, even significantly.

There are three options if you are missing your targets already:

  • Realign
  • Refocus
  • Give up

Option three is already off the table for an intentional business leader. But realign if you discover that your sights were set too high, and refocus if you came close but didn’t quite make it. Perhaps there are a few details you can narrow in on for the next couple of weeks to hit the target.

Financials and Recordkeeping

I’m amazed at how few companies and organizations have a solid financial close process and still don’t use a simple closing checklist – every month.  I know it’s easy to try to wing it, but from experience, things will slip – not all balance sheet accounts will get reconciled, dates will pass without action, and the overall accuracy will degrade.  I’ve experienced this myself.  We need to maintain the monthly discipline of following a checklist – every month.

A monthly close should take no more than 10 days, and should actually take less time than that. Huge companies can do it – GE, a 95 BILLION dollar company with 250,000 employees, can close in three days.

I have one client that has a complex billing process.  When I began working with them, their month-end close took 30 days.  Not only did the slow billing process affect the close, but it also caused delays in customer payments and cash flow. By focusing on changing the process, we were not only able to improve the close timing, but accounts receivable turnover also increased significantly.

If you are having closing in 10 days or less, investigate what’s slowing the process down.  A recent survey indicated the month-end close (close to disclose) process has slowed due to internal levels of review, growing need to identify and consolidate more detail for financial statements and more time to check for errors.  While these all sound good, the problem seems to be that the close is run by memory rather than clear and specific protocols and checklists

With the quarter ending – plan now to get back to basics.  Get your financials closed quickly (download the closing checklist), compare to your forecasted results, determine what is necessary to get back on track, and plan out an action plan to get back on course.

Tasks and To-Dos

All work isn’t created equal, despite it all feeling urgent.  Step back and ask yourself

What is of highest value right now?

Sometimes, I will look for the path of least resistance.  I can still feel productive checking my email or knocking a small task or two off my list. But deep down, I know I’m avoiding the significant project or important initiative I should be working on.  I have found the following three actions helpful when this occurs, and suggest the following for you:

  1. Delegate routine tasks. An administrative assistant (in person or virtual) can help with recurring tasks so you can focus on what only YOU can do.
  2. Batch tasks. Try to do your “lower value” tasks in batches. Schedule time to process email, read professional development articles, clean up files, etc. as one appointment block so you can knock off a lot of administrative tasks at one time.
  3. Automate.  When possible, utilize apps and other systems to take care of routine details. Automatic payments help you avoid late charges. Weekly reminders through tools like Outlook or Google Assistant help you stop the “try not to forget to …” thoughts swirling in your head. Using tools that snooze email to a more appropriate time can keep you from feeling distracted by a full email inbox.

A quarterly review is invaluable in helping you, and your company, succeed.  I love to help clients grow stronger in their review/closing process. Is it time for some extra help? Schedule a free strategy call today!

 

Planning Sessions Lead to Success in Business

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It seems like I’ve just finished my annual planning sessions with my clients and now the first month of the year is already a wrap!  I always come off these sessions excited about a new year.

The format of these sessions varies somewhat, but all have these basic elements:

  • Looking at the past year and acknowledging the good and the bad
  • Checking our numbers to see how they compare to what we projected last year
  • Asking ourselves if we accomplished the big goals we had set the previous year
  • Ensuring that we all have the same vision and look ahead three years, asking “Where do we want to be?”
  • Turning back to the annual plan to set revenue and net income targets so we can achieve the 3-year vision
  • Drilling down to establish what we want to accomplish in the next 90 days.

The teams I work with generally have 4-6 people on the leadership team.  We make an effort to block out two consecutive days with little interruption, to allow time for deep focus on these vital steps.  But you don’t have to have a team or two full days.

If you haven’t had an annual planning session (even if with yourself), get it done now. Evaluate your team to ensure that you have the right people in the right seats, and develop a two-page annual plan (20-page business plans tend to take a lot of time and generally end up sitting on a shelf collecting dust.)  Your two-page plan should contain:

Page 1:

  • Core values
  • Mission Statement
  • 3-year and 10-year vision (What do we look like in 3/10 years?)

Page 2:

  • One-year targets
  • Next 90 days goals
  • List of issues to address

The annual plan is just the start.  You should then book times for a quarterly review. At those meetings, ensure that you review your current 90-day goals and update/list new goals and issues to address over the coming 90 days.

With the correct team environment, these quarterly meetings and the annual in-depth meeting become essential and valuable components to a successful organization.

So now that month-one is under your belt, ask yourself

  • How am I/how are we performing?
  • Have I/we made progress on our 90-day goals?
  • Are January financials closed yet?
  • Did we send our December 31 trial balance to our CPA?
  • Have we been using a weekly scorecard for visibility and to ensure our leading performance indicators are tracking?
  • If we are off track, what are we doing to get back on? (If you get off track in the first months of the year, you will have a much harder time getting on track later in the year.)

It’s vital to make sure that you have closed your January financials timely and develop your strategic plan to conquer the upcoming year.  Utilizing these tools will help get an accurate picture of where you are and how you can do better.  Download the month-end closing checklist to verify that you are positioned well for success.

Deep Cuts: Have you Restructured Enough?

Is it time to make deep cuts

There is a saying in the turnaround world that when you cut staff, cut deep and deeper than you think – but only make the cuts once. This approach helps reinforce the morale of the remaining team members, reassuring them that no additional cuts are expected.  I’ve worked with turnarounds for 20+ years and almost every time, we didn’t cut deep enough.  There was always a rationalization as to why we need to keep this person or that person. In the end though, the majority of the time, we wish we’d made the deeper cuts, difficult as they would have been.

With the crazy 2020 economy, all of my clients have restructured in some way.   Business as we knew it changed, and we are all doing things differently than we did a year ago.

But now as we move into the new year, we need to ask the question, “Have we restructured enough?”  When advising clients, I recommend they think from the viewpoint: “If we started this company today, what would we want it to look like?”  Most admit they would want a leaner and stronger team.  Often, there’s a “Sally” who has been there for years but didn’t adapt as the company grew and remains difficult to work with.  Or a “Bob” who was enthusiastic when the company began, but has settled in and coasted for too long now.

My clients often would not have the same systems and processes, either. It’s natural for these to evolve over time. If they don’t, that’s actually concerning. While you don’t have to jump on the latest technology crazes or change a smooth operations procedure frequently, you could be missing out on productivity if you don’t at least stay aware of how you can adapt and take advantage of new tools and ideas.

Now is the time to take a look at staffing, process, and systems, with the new year coming quickly.  If you don’t, you may experience what a business-owner friend did.

He tried to keep things the way they were.  Their business was significantly impacted by the C-19 virus.  He had trouble facing reality.  He told himself, “Things will come back. I want to keep Bob and Jean, I’ll need them.”  He bled through all the excess cash on payroll and rent.  When his cash started to run out he called me.

We looked at his business as if it was a brand new start-up.  Would he need Bob and Jean if he was starting the business today? It was a definite “no.”  He also wouldn’t need his beautiful, but now 3/4 empty office.  He could do 100% remote if necessary.  He was focusing 100% of his time on worry and expense reduction rather than 90% of his time on revenue generation and strengthening his team—key roles for the CEO of a small business.

To be fair, these considerations aren’t easy.  And to his credit, he did the following:

  • He started to work within the 80/20 principle, giving 80% of his effort to the top 20% of priorities for the company.
  • He adopted the 13-Week Cash flow process, and stopped the cash bleed.
  • He gave serious consideration to his business plans and budgets for 2021, even if some decisions wouldn’t be easy.

Things still aren’t perfect for him, but his business is surviving. And these days, a surviving business can almost be considered a thriving one.

How about you? Do you need to make some deep cuts? Do some hard thinking? Make some significant changes? It’s not easy, but being a business owner often isn’t. There are ways to handle these decisions with grace and helping your people adapt or even find new places to spread their wings if your company isn’t the best fit for them anymore. You all may find you come out of this global difficulty a little stronger and better positioned for the future.  Let me know if I can help.

Budget Time – Time to Reflect, Review, Refocus

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It’s budget season.  Time to get your budget process started and formalize your plan for 2021.  (And before you panic and say, But I’m Not an Accountant! remember that all executive leaders need to develop at least a basic understanding of the financial outlook for the companies they own or help to manage to make wise decisions! Use this as an opportunity to learn and enhance your leadership skills.)

It’s also a good time to reflect, review, and re-focus before you actually start crunching numbers.

When I help business owner clients with budgeting, I do the following:

  • Reflect: We take a look back to where they were five years ago (in this case, 2015).
  • Review: We look at the transformation (or not) from 2015 to now and determine where things stand right NOW.
  • Refocus: We look at where they want to be five years from now and tighten our focus on those goals.

The look-back is important to appreciate where we are. The lessons are, yes, painful at times, but are good for us in developing as individuals and successful business owners. The look forward primes us to seize what is ahead and make it count.

This exercise helps us develop goals to move toward the five-year vision. We look at sales and marketing, operations, profitability, working capital, EBITDA, and lifestyle. This helps clarify the vision. It’s a simple, but very effective exercise. This helps us activate our brain’s reticulate activating system to do the right things to move toward that five-year vision.

After the reflect, review, refocus process comes the nuts-and-bolts part–creating the budget.

As you start forming your 2021 budget, use the following as a guide to having the budget finalized by the end of November.

  • Sales Budget: The overall company budget starts with the Sales budget. Look at customers’ sales and gross profit history. Synergistically work with your sales team to develop what is possible for your business. Look at your current customers. Set targets for new customers. Look at your current segments–are there any new segments for 2021? Put your customer data into a size/profitability matrix. If possible consider fully absorbed gross margin (i.e. some customers use more operating expenses than others). Consider allocating variable operating expenses to your cost of goods sold by customers. Understand your average transaction size and number of transactions per customer. Fact: Super-successful companies focus on sales growth more so than expense reduction. Make that your focus too. What are your planned sales by segment by month for 2021? What are your gross margins by month?
  • Production Budget: This depends on what type of business you’re running. The production plan must be able to support the sales plan. For example: Do you need to adjust shipping schedules? Is production driving revenue or is revenue-driving production? Focus on lean, smooth, and efficient processes.
  • Personnel Plan: Plan your organization chart with salary dollars and key responsibilities. Here’s a Personnel Plan (on my resource page) you can use.
  • Operating Expenses: Look at your trailing 12 month-by-month to see any seasonality or sales relationships. Forecast each line item by month and document the assumptions in a summary of significant assumptions document.
  • Interest Expense: Calculate planned debt usage. Ensure all debt on your balance sheet ties out to an amortization schedule. Plan to meet with your bankers to improve your borrowing capacity.
  • Depreciation: Plan your capital expenditure budget. What fixed assets are you buying, when, and how (lease/buy, cash/finance)? Use your fixed asset register to forecast your current depreciation for 2021 and needed fixed asset additions.
  • Cash Flow: Can you make improvements in your DSO or Inventory Turnover to improve cash flow? Your forecasted balance sheet will be driven by your cash flow drivers.
  • Calendar Your Quarterly Accountability: I use a Year-at-a-Glance Calendar and schedule everything: holidays, important dates, vacations, quarterly meetings, etc. It’s a good idea to get this drafted now.

A step-by-step budgeting process preceded by a “Reflect, Review, Refocus” exercise can help you tackle this sometimes intimidating but very necessary project in preparation for the new year. If you need help, contact me!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Inspired to Innovate

Don't Believe Everything You Think

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I get inspired and motivated by working with smart, driven business owners every day.  They have been forced to be innovative to drive their companies and be successful in constantly changing unpredictable times.  Working with them forces ME to be innovative too, which I love.

I don’t like to get too comfortable. I believe we need to be constantly improving and developing our capacity.  Don’t believe everything you currently think.  Sometimes we need to think differently and not do things the same way they’ve always been done anymore.

Some business owners get stuck in their growth path. Maybe it’s the obstacles in the path to progress. Sometimes it’s stubbornness or a desire to stick with the comfortable.

Take a typical organizational structure for example.  As companies grow, the typical structure adds management layers – some which are necessary and important.  We are all very familiar, and often comfortable, with the idea of an org chart.  Don’t forget though that these hierarchical organization charts were developed back in the 1800s as a way to handle the now growing, larger organizations developing from the industrial revolution.  We needed to create more production in factories.  We needed supervisors to make sure the workers were doing their jobs. We needed managers to make sure the supervisors were doing their job. We needed the directors to watch the managers, the VP’s to watch the directors, etc.

Today we need different thinking.  Now, we need to trust our employees and help them develop their capacity to act, which helps improve everyone’s capacity. Equipping our employees doesn’t necessarily mean adding more task-work. Now, it’s more about helping them develop their skills so they can make wise productivity choices.  It’s a different way of thinking that also involves helping our employees understand the culture and environment we want for our organizations. What are our core drivers? Who is our real customer? How can each of us be an important part of a synergistic team?*  We want them to be an active part of moving the company forward, not just respond to a list of tasks daily.

Not only is our thinking changing, but our environments are also.  Many of us had to address re-opening our offices – how to layout the office with proper distancing, adapting smaller meeting rooms, spreading out cubes.  Many companies are still questioning the rationale of returning workers to the office full-time.  I know several business leaders who had been very strongly against remote work who were planning to come back to their office as soon as they could.  Now that they see their business working well (some very well) with employees being more productive, collaborative, and happy working remotely, their growth path has shifted and they are intentionally growing their business with remote teams.

As we focus on a strong finish to Q3 in a very strange year, get ready to look at year-to-date results, re-examine your team, and how you’ve adapted in 2020.  The 2HYBP may need to be freshened up for the fourth quarter to finish strong. Be inspired to innovate!

*By the way – here’s a fantastic book on improving your hiring process so you can get the employees that will respond well to growth.  Who, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street.

Thoughts on Courage

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I am so inspired by the courage I see every day recently in front-line workers—the doctors, nurses, grocery store checkout clerks, police officers, etc.  I am also in awe of the bravery and courage of our military personnel.  Courage drips off these people.  I also inspired the people I serve and many of my clients who have really stepped up and demonstrated immense courage and leadership.  It seems like a crisis can bring out the best in people.

With business significantly changing and the ‘new reality’ is completely unknown, courage and trust are so needed today. Our staff needs our leadership and support—which especially now, can take incredible courage to step up and provide leadership to drive our companies forward.

Courage is a combination of knowledge, faith, and action.  We need all three—two without the other generally doesn’t work.   A project team with knowledge and faith gather the data—they know it’s going to work—but without action, it’s paralysis by analysis.  We all suffer from this.  We need to have the facts and believe what in what we’re doing, but we need action to bring the goal, project, or initiative to completion.  However, action and faith without knowledge is generally stupid and short-sighted.   And knowledge and action can work together, but if there isn’t faith in the idea or project, it won’t sell well or create enthusiasm among staff and clients/customers.  We need all three to exercise real courage.

Courage is such an important attribute in our business’s success.  Companies are already perishing at an unbelievable rate – 52% of the Fortune 500 from 2000 to today are gone. (Yes, some through acquisition, but many are outright gone.)  Somewhere the balance of knowledge, faith, and action failed.   This a is scary fact, but learning from it gives companies an opportunity to be different and thrive.

What got us here won’t get us there.  We need to continually work for tomorrow developing ourselves and our teams and mustering the ongoing courage to drive our companies forward, try new things, and learn from mistakes.

We all fear change. We’ve been brought up to keep “safe.”  And indeed, we need to practice safety on practical levels, especially now. But like a caterpillar that eventually turns into a butterfly, we cannot stay cocooned in the “safety net” of how we’ve always done things while the world drastically changes around us.

Here’s to the courage we are seeing, and the courage we are trying to muster up. Our companies, our staff, and our world need it.

 

Four Reasons to Document Your Processes

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I love to help a business improve its processes. I know it may not sound too exciting, but it’s fun and really helps build a cohesive team.

I’ve been helping one of my clients speed-up and improve the monthly close process, implement a 13-week cash flow process to help predict cash flow, prepare the 2HYBP, and document their core business and operating processes.

Many small companies never do this, but it really makes a difference in your company’s performance.

Core processes generally revolve around

  • How you generate leads/create clients (Sales/Marketing)
  • How you serve your clients (Operations)
  • How you support your operations (Human Resources)
  • How you measure and report on what gets done (Accounting)

Once you understand this, take it a step further and document your unique processes. Here’s why:

Four Reasons to Document Your Processes

  • To improve the process (by definition)
  • To help with training
  • To expand company-wide knowledge
  • To provide consistency for all stakeholders: employees, customers, and vendors

I use a simple formula:

  1. Identify the core processes
  2. Determine who is accountable for the process
  3. Get the primary process users together (core processes must be followed by everyone involved)
  4. Understand exactly what each process is trying to do, identify outputs and measurements
  5. Flow chart the current state visually, indicating how things work TODAY; if this, then x; if that, then y
  6. Try to simplify and determined improvement changes
  7. Produce a standard document with the process name, scope, expected outcome, parties involved, expected outputs, measurements, and any deviations
  8. Separately document improvement opportunities
  9. Review and test

Documenting and simplifying core processes allow businesses to create a self-sustaining organization that will run smoothly and provide a great customer experience.

An Example

With this client, we documented the sales process first. Most business starts with sales, so this made sense. We discussed sales attitude, the greeting, the value of using a headset so the sales reps’ hands are free, and noted any sales objections. We streamlined a related customer service process:  what happens with returns, credits, complaints, etc.  The end result created a consistent, streamlined and efficient process for the company and a consistent and efficient process for the customer.  A bonus? An excellent training guide for new sales reps.

A well documented and tested process can dramatically help with a customer’s overall experience, and also keep activities consistent and efficient for employees. This was life-changing for this sales team. While being flexible, it provided a consistent and efficient repeatable process.

Once you have all the main processes documented, you have an operations manual.  (To keep it current, you should have a process to review each process yearly!)

What process will you document today?

 

Featured image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Half Time Show

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June is over.  I know, it’s hard to believe… the year is half over.  As we all say – time flies.

In our business year, it’s half-time.  The first half is done and the second half is about to start.  Now is the time to solidify the second half-year business plan or the 2HYBP.

Your initial business plan was likely published in November or December with data and assumptions that are now ancient.  Fact: We now have better data, a solid history for the year, and a good read about orders and sales for the second half of the year.

It’s time now to re-assess and look at your second quarter goals; take stock where you are and readjust your sales, margin, expense, and net income targets – either up or down – more realistic.   Start planning the quarterly financial close so you can get your data finalized quickly.  Many general ledger accounts can be analyzed and finalized early.  Get started on the close early.

As a business leader, it’s now time now to begin to 2HYBP planning cycle – start getting your historical info, meet with your team, and prepare to update your operating plan for the second half of the year.

I am working with a client now with 2 business segments – a wholesale model and a direct to consumer business.  The initial targets we set for each business made sense in December, but now with actual results, we are making some significant changes with the direct to consumer business.  We didn’t hit the targets we thought we would – partially our fault and partially the reality of the market.  Nevertheless, we are redoing the 2HYBP so we finish the year strong.  You need to do the same.

This time of the year, I hunker down and go into semi-monk mode.  I work remotely for the entire month of July.  I focus on getting solid June closes with useful reporting packages with all of my clients by mid-July.  We re-cast the 2HYBP to ensure we are on pace to hit or exceed our initial goals.  We do our planning meetings early in August and get everyone on the same page, rowing in the same direction to hit our targets.

Quarterly, I recommend getting out of the office with your team to ensure everyone is in sync.  People take vacations in the summer, so get the meeting on everyone’s calendar now and take time to evaluate your half-time – then get after it and finish strong!

 

Finish Strong!

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It’s late in the fourth quarter, and 2017 is almost in the history book.  With very few days left in the year, we need to continue to be committed and passionate to push hard to finish our year strong.

I generally compete in several running events and triathlons each year all over New York State.  Though I’ve gotten much slower in the last few years, my race day mantra (which seems successful to me) is always similar – get up early, be prepared, start steady, and finish the second half of the race strong.

As my friend JB says – Finish Strong!  Same in our businesses.

This year for the first time, I focused on reviewing my goals almost daily in my morning routine throughout the year.  The process of reviewing my annual and quarterly goals for 10 minutes a day really helped me to focus on important things and accomplish much more this year.  Even so, some of my goals are way off track.

The key for me is not to get discouraged.  As the year ends, we need to finish strong and focus on an even stronger year next year.  I am always amazed on how little seems to get accomplished in one year and how much seems gets accomplished in five years.  The continual improvement over time makes huge gains in our businesses and our lives.

This is a great time of the year to step back, finish the last couple of weeks strong, and plan for next year’s huge gains.

Here are a couple tips I’ve been using this year as I step back to set my course for next year.  I like to have my goals documented by the end of the year.

  1. Recognized accomplishments and failures over the last year.  What went great; what went terribly.  Don’t dwell on the failures – they happened, they’re behind us, and we can learn from them.  We need to address them, autopsy them, then put them behind us.
  2. Understand and believe in abundance, positive thinking, and limitless possibilities.  I see the enemy and he is me.  Think Elon Musk.  We need commitment and believe in a great future of possibilities.  I need to think more abundance versus scarcity.
  3. Write down 7-10 goals.  We are much more likely to complete goals that are written down.  The simple fact of just writing them down will greatly improve your performance.  We all know it; no one does it.  Have the top 3 for the upcoming quarter – again, written down.
  4. Rekindle passion and commitment to all projects and goals.  Staying with some of your projects and goals is sometimes too much.  This is why we quit.  We lose sight of the key motivations that we initially had.  The Why.  Understand your ‘why’ on each one of your goals.  If the goal isn’t a hell yes! – it’s a no.
  5. Stretch and be uncomfortable with goals.  This is where the growth and development come from.  Ask any high performer – they are rarely in their comfort zone.  Set stretch goals.

And keep yourself accountable.  I use Evernote and Nozbe (arguably the two best apps ever) and check my goals and progress weekly with a formal weekly review.  It is important to keep your goals in front of you and yourself accountable to action moving them forward.

Happy Holidays everyone – enjoy this time of the year.  I find this a great time to contemplate the past year, be grateful for simple things, enjoy our families, and set out a written plan for next year.

Let’s all finish strong together and go long in 2018!

/jon

 

Working with Experts

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All CEO’s, business owners, and finance execs (CFO’s, VP Finance, and controllers) hire and manage outside experts.  Auditors, lawyers, turnaround consultants, IT consultants, sales consultants, business consultants, executive coaches, etc.  Anyone we hire as an independent contractor to do a specific task, project or someone who can add value when and where it’s needed.

Heck, I’m an outside expert generally hired to improve the company’s results and help free up a business owner’s time so they can focus on their strengths.  As an outside expert, it’s not always easy consistently performing above expectation.

Why it’s so important?  We all want to do a good job and perform at the highest level, but it’s easy for the hours to get out of control or for the project to go in a different than the planned.

I’ve been on all sides – most projects go well,  but some don’t.  I had a Sarbanes-Oxley project I was managing go extremely well.  The project came in on budget, on time and right on scope.  It was a pleasure working with the expert I hired to help with the project.  He was professional, showed up on time, handled the company’s employees well, and delivered a final product that made me look good.

I’ve had times that’s it’s been the other way.  The professionals don’t perform anywhere close to where I expected.  They embarrassed me with my client’s leadership team.  They gave me a bill that blew my socks off, and the project wasn’t complete – and not even close to what I expected.

As an outsourced CFO for the past 10+ years, I’ve learned how to be an effective outside resource – what works and what doesn’t.  I now have crystal clear objectives with weekly status meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page.  I drive my value delivery to 10-15 times my fee charge, and I try to continually quantify my value and ensure we are all clear on the go forward plan.

The key for me to be successful is a clear sense of the project and clear communication to re-visit the objectives and continually re-evaluate the situation.

Some tips for managing outsourced engagements.

  1. Have a clear engagement letter, statement of objections or memo/understanding.
  2. Have clear objectives.  Clearly, knowing the expectation on all sides.
  3. Consistent regular review of past, present, future priorities.
  4. Ensure all invoices are received and paid timely.  Be clear on pricing and don’t let invoicing get behind.
  5. Ensure value is being received.  For me, I try to show 10-15x my fee in revenue gain and better profits.

As an outsourced pro, we need to make doing business with us easy. Know what the client is looking for in the arrangement. Be clear with expectations from both sides – yours and theirs.

Other tips:

  • Invest time to get to know them.
  • Make them feel part of the team.
  • Give feedback on performance – positive or negative, provide continual feedback.
  • Understand their other projects – this happens to me all the time.
  • Pay them market or better – don’t skimp on paying what they’re worth.

Above all continual communication is the key. Have open and honest communication. If the projects focus turns – either agree on the new direction or get the project back on the correct trajectory.

Think profit and go deep,

/jon