Author page: Laura Bechard

Freeing up profits in your business.

Hide And Seek – Strategies to Free Up Hidden Profits

It’s hard to ignore the news reporting an economic downturn in Alberta with some economists even using the “R” word (Recession). Couple the general economic woes with an increasing cost structure (taxes, minimum wage, insurance, etc.) and it may feel as if you’re pushing that string up an insurmountable hill. Fear not, here’s a few tips to help you ferret out those profits that may be hiding in plain sight: in operating costs, customer service or purchasing processes, hiring practices or unproductive assets. This post wraps up the series on Strategies to Improve your Profitability Part 1 and Part 2. Operating Costs There are many items that are included in “operating costs”: facility costs, general & administrative & selling expenses are often significant categories. Some suggestion to release profits: Check into membership and association discounts Trim back on phone, internet, power, wages, general office expenses Ask employees to analyze expenses…

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Strategies to Improve Your Profitability Part 2

In Strategies to Improve your Profitability – Part 1, I described how important it is for business owners to understand their financials and the actions / decisions behind the numbers. Now that you have completed an analysis and identified a “problem expense”, you may be wondering, “What now?” A key to the effectiveness of your cost-cutting action is the worth of the various expenditures. An expenditure may be “worth” more or less than the $ value. To determine the worth of an expenditure, you have to consider the productivity or benefit to your business of this expenditure. Can it be reduced without a corresponding decrease in revenues or profits? Can it be switched to a lower cost alternative? For example, if you cut your employee development budget without expecting a corresponding decrease in performance – either immediately or in the future, you may be sacrificing short-term profits for longer term…

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Strategies to improve your business's profitability

Strategies to Improve Your Profitability Part 1

Yesterday, October 1, 2015, minimum wage in Alberta increased by $1.00/hour from $10.20 to $11.20. Saskatchewan & Manitoba are following suit. In this series of posts, I’ll share ideas, tips and strategies for business owners. You pick the ones that will add value to your business. Consult with your business coach to help you select impactful activities. Know your financials! Before you can really narrow down on the strategies you will implement in your business to improve profitability, you need to understand the impact of all your decisions on your profitability. Business owners are laser-focused on the impact of staffing decisions, but solutions may involve a combination of decisions including capital investment, supplier management and / or labour. Locating reducible expenses Your focal point should be in locating expenses that can be cut. Therefore, the information should be as current as possible. A P&L statement (aka Income Statement) reports to…

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The rush of playing the game of business

The Rush

I love it when we win the game. I feel the rush of adrenalin. My heart pounds, muscles tense and I feel tremendous satisfaction. You may be wondering, “What game is she playing?” I’m playing the game of business. Agriculture is like many businesses that need to predict demand for their goods and services months if not years before the sale will be made. An entire market has evolved to trade in commodities. Can we accurately predict global prices for our crops prior to seeding? If we are wrong and excessive supply drives market prices down, we might have trouble recovering our input costs let alone realizing a profitable return. Can a retailer predict demand several months prior to the season and place effective orders? If the forecast is accurate, then inventory management costs can be optimized. If the forecast is wrong, lost sales, excessive inventory carrying costs or liquidations…

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It’s GO Time

In my June post, “Get your Motor Runnin’” I talked about the importance of routines in our crop production business during seeding. Guess what? It’s harvest time! Woot woot! More routines… Wait a minute…Maybe I am celebrating a bit prematurely. I think in many of our life and business experiences, we remember the good parts and our brains help us dismiss or downplay some of the more negative elements. Seasonal businesses know all too well the equity stake Mother Nature holds in their business. Crop producers put all their eggs into the basket in May and wait for Mother Nature to disburse the right mix of sunshine, rain, pests, and temperature to produce the cereal, oilseed or pulse crops that make their way into the food chain each fall. As a business owner, you understand the importance of cash flow to your business. That’s the added stress at this time…

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Because I Said so

If you find yourself saying something like, “I said so” to get buy in, you might get compliance, but are unlikely to increase engagement. Any parent identifies with challenging situations where all attempts to reason and influence their child’s behaviour failed. Out of exasperation or frustration, the words, “Because I said so” are uttered. The same is true for business owners. As Simon Sinek reminds us, “Start with why”. Understanding why it is in my interests to act differently is the quickest way to get buy-in. Being aware of the need for change as well as a desire to change are essential before change can happen. Aristotle provides even more wisdom,“A fool tells me his reasons. A wise man persuades me with my own.” That’s often where we fail in our communication. We forget to explicitly align our reasons with the other person’s, giving them a reason to commit to…

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Get on the PEOPLE side

It doesn’t matter how wonderful your idea or project is if no one uses it. As digital mail takes hold in our business, I, as the bookkeeper, need to change the business routines so I get the statements and business documents needed for record keeping. These documents used to arrive in the physical mailbox but they now arrive in my business partner’s inbox or via an online portal. I’m still managing this change as my success (getting the documents for record keeping) is dependent on both of us doing our work differently. Likewise, initiatives you start in your business rely on people to adopt the change and use it. Impactful change leads to improved profitability, time savings or decreased stress. Success might require a change in others’ attitudes, beliefs, behaviours or maybe all three. As creatures of habit, people revert to old behaviours even when they agree that the change…

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Get Your Motor Runnin’

On our farm, getting the equipment ready for spring seeding or the fall harvest is an important seasonal routine. If we have an equipment breakdown, we increase risk to the business. If we don’t get the crop planted by a certain date, we increase the chance that we won’t get it harvested before frost or other inclement weather arrives in the fall. In a crop production business, no crop = no revenue. For us, routines are an important element to save time, to increase safety, to reduce stress or to minimize input costs. For others, routines are an essential element of their creative process. What routines are in place in your business? It might not sound like stimulating conversation to discuss the routines in your business, but when you link routines to increased profits, time savings or reduced stress, now that is worth talking about! “Focus on being productive instead…

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Owning A Business - What's In It For Me -WIIFM

WIIFM?

Have you asked yourself this lately, “What’s In It For Me?” “Why did I decide to be in business?” If you’re like most entrepreneurs, your drive to be a business owner is part of your DNA. Perhaps you marveled at the success of someone else and thought, “If this guy can be successful, then I can be even more successful.” Or maybe you loved what you do so much that you thought you’d start a business so you could do this for others. Along the way, something happened that tipped you from thinking about owning your own business into taking action and making the business a reality. You had a vision for success. Your actions and decisions led to the results you get today. Is your vision coming true? Is your business successful enough so you can reap the rewards that come from taking the initiative? I believe that business…

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3 ways to fall in love with your business

3 Ways to Fall in Love With Your Business

Like many business owners, you might be caught up in the day to day whirlwind of operating your business and need to be reminded why you do what you do. Whether your numbers are up or down, whether you’re deciding to expand or contract to respond to changing political and economic times, it’s important to hold onto the key things that impacted your choice to be in business. Any business story is a love story. Rekindle the Romance Like in any relationship, once the honeymoon is over, there are peaks and valleys to your relationship with your business. Sometimes, you’re having fun, everything is in sync and you’re achieving your targets regularly. Other times, you are stymied in every direction, convinced that the gremlins are at work and frustrated that good ideas aren’t having the impact you want. Business is like a teenager – you may not always like it,…

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Can't Keep Up? 5 simple ways to step back and work on your business.

Can’t Keep Up? 5 Simple Ways to Step Back And Work ON Your Business

Frustrated with your ability to take your business to the next level? Feeling the pinch between working in your business and spending time where you really want to – with friends, family or leisure pursuits? Tired? Are you enjoying a successful business and starting to think about outsourcing more, hiring staff or stepping away from operations? Here’s five simple, but not easy, ways you can step back from operations (working IN your business) to focus on taking your business to the next level (working ON your business). Fill out an organization chart -even if you put your name in many or all of the boxes right now, start carving off pieces into similar functional roles such as sales, marketing, record keeping, business development, research, purchasing and human resources. When you’re ready to start outsourcing or hiring employees instead of doing everything yourself, you’ve got a good start on the job…

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Leveraging Your Success