As the economy begins to emerge from beneath COVID-related restrictions, many uncertainties remain in the small business sector. But one step you can take to right-size your risk and improve your opportunities for future growth is to make sure you have good financial management and tighten your financials, according to John Ruther, managing director for consulting firm O’Keefe. He was interviewed by Sheri Welsh for The Welsh Wire podcast, sponsored by the Family Business Alliance.
“Making sure that somebody can see three to five years of really good solid financials, that you can’t poke holes in, it turns out to be really valuable,” he says.
Ultimately, the goal of good financial management is to create value for the future, Ruther says.
“And obviously, if something’s not valuable anymore, then there’s not a need for it. So as long as you’re keeping it valuable, then that makes all the sense in the world.”
Ruther also says it’s also important to expand company knowledge and expertise beyond the firm’s founder.
“In a lot of cases, you’ll see that the people who work for or work within that company look to that person to make all those decisions. So when it comes time to look to either pass it on or exit or take a look at even expanding the customer base, [if] it’s that person that is the reason that the business is so successful [then] it’s really important for you to start to pass that information on to somebody else.”
He also says you can help future-proof your business by spending time now in strengthening relationships and building trust with suppliers, bankers, etc.
The Family Business Alliance serves to advance family businesses in West Michigan with the tools, strategies, and partners to achieve multi-generational success. We provide educational opportunities, events, and resources that will assist you to elevate leadership, navigate governance and create connections.
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners expects employee embezzlement to increase by 71 percent over the next 12 months. Is your family business prepared?
One of the simplest steps to take is regularly checking your bank statements. “I know that those of you that are business owners may think, ‘Oh, I don’t have time, I have people to do this for me,’ but I will tell you, you will catch a lot of things if you periodically run and check the bank statement, just scroll through and see what a few things are,” says Kristen Spence, Fraud & Litigation Manager for Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors.
Other topics discussed during the 30-minute podcast include how to spot red flag warnings in payroll operations, securely manage manufacturing inventory, and reduce risk by implementing proper internal controls.
Those formal internal controls are especially important for small family-run businesses, says Katy Felver, Business Advisor for Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors. “It’s a little bit more challenging to put internal controls in place [but] it is possible,” she says. “And it isn’t because I don’t trust you, it’s because we’ve got to have each other’s backs. We always have to make sure that we’ve got it like you’re watching me, I’m watching you. We’ve got transparency and honesty going on,” continued Felver.
For any business owner, there is no substitute for knowing your employees and knowing what’s going on.
“Kind of my motto is when you’re a business owner, if you’re able, keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in your organization,” Spence says. “And a good way to do that is, honestly, hang around the water cooler. Get to know your employees. And if they are comfortable with you, eventually, they will start telling you things that they wish they had told you,” she stated.
Family-owned small businesses face lots of challenges. 2K Tool, founded 15 years ago by Heidi Smith and her son Kevin, has navigated a path to growth and success by having a productive partnership with their banker, Old National Bank. “I think that partnering with a banker who understands your industry is very important, [who] understands the manufacturing industry a lot, and you have to click in a way that you trust the relationship, too,” Heidi says.
2K Tool is an innovative leader in custom machining and mold making. It has 25 employees in Grand Rapids, including Heidi’s husband, her daughter Amanda, who serves as operations manager, and Heidi’s son-in-law Aric.
Do you know who you really are? You better if you want to be an effective business leader.
Self-awareness is crucial to leadership, says Rob Elliott, a partner in Pondera Leadership Consulting. He talked recently with Sheri Welsh for The Welsh Wire podcast, sponsored by the Family Business Alliance.
“What’s the key to effective leadership in a family business? Identity.”
– Tom Emigh of Acorn Leadership
“You have to know who you are before you can lead effectively, and that’s really the core of it,” says Tom Emigh, Leadership Coach & Principal for Acorn Leadership. “Identity is about the question, who am I?” Emigh talked recently with Sheri Welsh for The Welsh Wire podcast, sponsored by the Family Business Alliance.
Navigating the complex dynamics of decision-making can be one of the biggest challenges to family business success.
Wade Wyant, Executive Advisor/Scaling Up Coach at Red Wagon Advisors of Ada, suggested ways to address those challenges when he spoke with Sheri Welsh for The Welsh Wire podcast, sponsored by the Family Business Alliance.
Family businesses perform better in highly competitive environments if they invest in risky activities like mergers and acquisitions, according to new research on risk aversion versus performance in family-owned firms.
Ana Gonzalez, Director of the Family Owned Business Institute and Assistant Professor at the Management Department at Grand Valley State University, talked about her findings when she was interviewed by Sheri Welsh for The Welsh Wire podcast, sponsored by the Family Business Alliance.
New research on gender diversity in family businesses shows that women tend to be more upbeat about business performance than men — but that changes if the women are in leadership positions, according to Ana Gonzalez, Director of the Family Owned Business Institute and Assistant Professor at the Management Department at Grand Valley State University. She was interviewed by Sheri Welsh for The Welsh Wire podcast, sponsored by the Family Business Alliance.