Strategic Business Planning

For Best Results, Start Your Strategic Planning Early

Time flies when you’re having fun — and running a business. Although it’s probably too early to start chilling a bottle of bubbly for New Year’s Eve, it’s certainly not too early for business owners to start doing some strategic planning for next year. Here are some ways to get started.

The U.S. Department of Labor Finalizes the New Overtime Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released the finalized rule on overtime exemptions for white-collar workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The rule updates the standard salary levels for the first time since 2004. While it is expected to expand the pool of nonexempt workers by more than 1 million, it’s also more favorable to employers than a rule proposed by the Obama administration in 2016. That rule would have expanded the pool by more than 4 million but was blocked by a federal district court judge.

Best Practices When Filing a Business Interruption Claim

Many companies, especially those that operate in areas prone to natural disasters, should consider business interruption insurance. Unlike a commercial property policy, which may cover certain repairs of damaged property, this coverage generally provides the cash flow to cover revenues lost and expenses incurred while normal operations are suspended because of an applicable event.

Monthly KPI Dashboards: A Powerful Tool for Your Dental Practice

With patients to care for and a dental team to lead, it’s easy to overlook the financial details of your dental practice. But pausing each month to review key performance indicators, or KPIs, can empower you to make strategic decisions, both for the financial and clinical sides of your practice. A KPI dashboard gives you a way to easily incorporate this review into your monthly routine.

Is It Time to Hire a CFO or Controller?

Many business owners reach a point where managing the financial side of the enterprise becomes overwhelming - and is taking your focus away from running your business strategically. Usually, this is a good thing — the company has grown to a point where simple bookkeeping and basic financial reporting just don’t cut it anymore. If you can relate to the feeling, it may be time to add a CFO or controller.

Taking a Long-Term Approach to Certain Insurance Documentation

After insurance policies expire, many businesses just throw away the paper copies and delete the digital files. But you may need to produce evidence of certain kinds of insurance even after the coverage period has expired. For this reason, it’s best to take a long-term approach to certain types of policies.

Run Your Strategic-Planning Meetings like They Really Matter

Many businesses struggle to turn abstract strategic-planning ideas into concrete, actionable plans. One reason why is simple: ineffective meetings. The ideas are there, lurking in the minds of management and key employees, but the process for hashing them out just doesn’t work. Here are a few ways to run your strategic-planning meetings like they really matter — which, of course, they do.

Responding to the Nightmare of a Data Breach

It’s every business owner’s nightmare. Should hackers gain access to your customers’ or employees’ sensitive data, the very reputation of your company could be compromised. And lawsuits might soon follow.

Put a Number on Your Midyear Performance with the Right KPIs

We’ve reached the middle of the calendar year. So how are things going for your business? Conversationally you might say, “Pretty good.” But, analytically, can you put a number on how well you’re doing — or several numbers for that matter? You can if you choose and calculate the right key performance indicators (KPIs).

Effective Compensation Design: Why It Matters for Your Medical Practice

Recruiting and retaining talent is a constant challenge for any business, but it tends to carry more weight in the context of a medical practice. Practice leaders must worry about physicians’ financial incentives in addition to market requirements for quality, outcomes, and the patient experience. Without a plan for how to compensate physicians, it can be difficult to meet these competing needs.

Refine Your Strategic Plan with SWOT

With the year underway, your business probably has a strategic plan in place for the months ahead. Or maybe you’ve created a general outline but haven’t quite put the finishing touches on it yet. In either case, there’s a time-tested approach to refining your strategic plan that you should consider: a SWOT analysis.

Should Your Health Care Plan Be More Future-Focused?

The pace of health care cost inflation has remained moderate over the past year or so, and employers are trying to keep it that way. In response, many businesses aren’t seeking immediate cost-cutting measures or asking employees to shoulder more of the burden. Rather, they’re looking to “future-focused” health care plan features to encourage healthful behaviors.

4 Business Functions You Could Outsource Right Now

One thing in plentiful supply in today’s business world is help. Orbiting every industry are providers, consultancies and independent contractors offering a wide array of support services. Simply put, it’s never been easier to outsource certain business functions so you can better focus on fulfilling your company’s mission and growing its bottom line.

Make Sure the Price Is Right with Market Research

The promise of the new year lies ahead. One way to help ensure it’s a profitable one is to re-evaluate your company’s pricing strategy. You need to devise an approach that considers more than just what it cost you to produce a product or deliver a service; it also must factor in what customers want and value — and how much money they’re willing to spend. Then you need to evaluate how competitors price and position their offerings.

Financial Statements Tell Your Business’s Story, Inside and Out

Ask many entrepreneurs and small business owners to show you their financial statements and they’ll likely open a laptop and show you their bookkeeping software. Although tracking financial transactions is critical, spreadsheets aren’t financial statements.

The DOL proposes updated overtime rules for administrative salaried professionals

The regulations regarding the overtime exemptions for executive, administrative and professional employees haven’t been updated since 2004. A change was scheduled to take effect in 2016, however, a district court judge granted a preliminary injunction stopping the implementation. The Trump administration has released its long-awaited proposed rule to update the overtime exemptions for so-called white-collar workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This article summarizes what employers should know, and follow closely as The DOL has solicited public comments on the proposed rule change, currently scheduled to take effect in 2020.

3 Ways to Get More from Your Marketing Dollars

A strong economy leads some company owners to cut back on marketing. Why spend the money if business is so good? Others see it differently — a robust economy means more sales opportunities, so pouring dollars into marketing is the way to go.

Getting Ahead of the Curve on Emerging Technologies

Turn on your computer or mobile device, scroll through Facebook or Twitter, or skim a business-oriented website, and you’ll likely come across the term “emerging technologies.” It has become so ubiquitous that you might be tempted to ignore it and move on to something else. That would be a mistake.

Coping with Construction-Related Tariffs

In the current politically charged environment, construction owners must continue to meet financial challenges, including tariffs on products frequently used in their industry.

Family Businesses Need Succession Plans, Too

Those who run family-owned businesses often underestimate the need for a succession plan. After all, they say, we’re a family business — there will always be a family member here to keep the company going and no one will stand in the way.

Devote Some Time to Internal Leadership Development

Many factors go into the success of a company. You’ve got to offer high-quality products or services, provide outstanding customer service, and manage your inventory or supply chain. But there’s at least one other success factor that many business owners often overlook: internal leadership training and development.

Taking the Hybrid Approach to Cloud Computing

For several years now, cloud computing has been touted as the perfect way for companies large and small to meet their software and data storage needs. But, when it comes to choosing and deploying a solution, one size doesn’t fit all.

Estimates vs. Actuals: Create a Realistic Budget for 2019

As you begin a new year, business owners can be thankful for the gift of perspective (among other things, we hope). Assuming you created a budget for the calendar year, you should now be able to accurately assess that budget by comparing its estimates to actual results. Your objective is to determine whether your budget was reasonable, and, if not, how to adjust it to be more accurate for 2019.

It’s Time to Review Your Buy-Sell Agreement

Buy-sell agreements are commonly referred to as the "prenuptial agreements of the business world." Made by and between the owners of a privately held business, these legally binding agreements outline what happens if an owner were to leave the business, whether due to death or resignation. Perhaps most important, a buy-sell agreement stipulates what the newly available shares are worth—as well as who can buy them.

How Technology Can Help Your Construction Business Avoid Shrinking Margins

It's no secret that the past 18 months or so have been challenging for the construction industry. Tariffs have largely been in flux, which, in turn, have caused the cost of certain construction materials to jump. At least three major hurricanes have ravaged the U.S., leading to labor and materials shortages, particularly in the Midwest. And with murmurs of a slowdown on the horizon, many construction companies and contractors are worried about shrinking margins.

Say, Just How Competitive Is Your Business Anyway?

Every business owner launches his or her company wanting to be successful. But once you get out there, it usually becomes apparent that you’re not alone. To reach any level of success, you’ve got to be competitive with other similar businesses in your market.

Use Benchmarking to Swim with the Big Fish

You may keep a wary eye on your competitors, but sometimes it helps to look just a little bit deeper. Even if you’re a big fish in your pond, someone a little bigger may be swimming up just beneath you. Being successful means not just being aware of these competitors, but also knowing their approaches and results.

Is There a Weak Link in Your Supply Chain?

In an increasingly global economy, keeping a close eye on your supply chain is imperative. Even if your company operates only locally or nationally, your suppliers could be affected by wider economic conditions and developments. So, make sure you’re regularly assessing where weak links in your supply chain may lie.

Advisory Panel: What’s One Lesson for Entrepreneurs Looking to Grow Their Business?

Recently, Jon Cassens took part in an advisory panel for the Upsize Minnesota Growth Challenge, in partnership with Club Entrepreneur - Minneapolis. Question asked: "what's one lesson you've learned working with small businesses that you would share with other entrepreneurs looking to grow their business? Check out this video for the panelists' response. 

Get SMART When It Comes to Setting Strategic Goals

Strategic planning is key to ensuring every company’s long-term viability, and goal setting is an indispensable step toward fulfilling those plans. Unfortunately, businesses often don’t accomplish their overall strategic plans because they’re unable to fully reach the various goals necessary to get there.

3 Keys to a Successful Accounting System Upgrade

Technology is tricky. Much of today’s software is engineered so well that it will perform adequately for years. But new and better features are being created all the time. And if you’re not getting as much out of your financial data as your competitors are, you could be at a disadvantage.

Finding a 401(K) That’s Right for Your Business

By and large, today’s employees expect employers to offer a tax-advantaged retirement plan. A 401(k) is an obvious choice to consider, but you may not be aware that there are a variety of types to choose from.

Ask the Right Questions About Your IT Strategy

Most businesses approach technology as an evolving challenge. You don’t want to overspend on bells and whistles you’ll never fully use, but you also don’t want to get left behind as competitors use the latest tech tools to operate more nimbly.

A Midyear Review Should Go Beyond Financials

Every year is a journey for a business. You begin with a set of objectives for the months ahead, probably encounter a few bumps along the way and, hopefully, reach your destination with some success and a few lessons learned.

Blockchain May Soon Drive Business Worldwide

“Blockchain” may sound like something that goes on a vehicle’s tires in icy weather or that perhaps is part of that vehicle’s engine. Indeed it is a type of technology that may help drive business worldwide at some point soon — but digitally, not physically. No matter what your industry, now’s a good time to start learning about blockchain.

Cost Control Takes a Total Team Effort

“That’s just the cost of doing business.” You’ve probably heard this expression many times. It’s true that, to invoke another cliché, you’ve got to spend money to make money. But that doesn’t mean you have to take rising operational costs sitting down.

Could a Long-Term Deal Ease Your Succession Planning Woes?

Some business owners — particularly those who founded their companies — may find it hard to give up control to a successor. Maybe you just can’t identify the right person internally to fill your shoes. While retirement isn’t in your immediate future, you know you must eventually step down.

7 Steps to Choosing a Successor for Your Family Business

There’s an old saying regarding family-owned businesses: “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” It means the first-generation owner started in shirtsleeves and built the company up from nothing but, by the third generation, the would-be owner is back in shirtsleeves with nothing because the business failed or was sold.

Top 10 Ways to Maximize Revenue in Your Medical Practice

Medical practices have long focused on improving bottom lines by reducing expenses and developing operational efficiencies, but neither initiative is the end-all-be-all. To survive in an increasingly tight market, medical practices must find ways to maximize revenue, too.

Manufacturers: 6 Strategic Steps to Help Spur Growth

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch was famous for asking his constituents, "How am I doing?" Similarly, leaders in the manufacturing industry like to take the pulse of the sector from time to time, especially after the economic struggles of the last decade and a lull stretching over the past two years.

New Retainage Law | What It Means for Minnesota Subcontractors

Last year was a busy year for lawmakers at the Minnesota Legislature in regard to the construction industry. Going forward, both prime (general) contractors as well as subcontractors need to be aware of the law changes in the statute, as they can affect everything from contracts and scheduling to accounting and project timelines.

How to Negotiate a Better Payer Contract: 3 Must-dos Before Signing

One of the biggest challenge facing physician practices is staying independent. In order to overcome it, medical practice leaders must pay attention to payer contracts. But all too often, practices accept these contracts as-is. Our goal is to help you understand if you are getting the best deal possible - and what to do if you're not.

Growing Your Practice? Consider Cost Per Encounter

In an era of administrators and CFOs being asked to do more with less, is expanding your patient roster the obvious solution for growing your medical practice? Here’s why it's important to measure the impact on your bottom line.

Vetting Potential Franchises: 4 Questions to Ask Before You Buy In

When you buy into a franchise, you get more than a business—you also get a business partner. As a franchisee, this should be a good fit for you personally. And, the franchisor should add as much value as you do. But how will you know this before you sign a contract? Use the following vetting questions to choose the right franchise.

Avoiding the Avoidable – Mistakes That Derail Successful Businesses

Patrick Maloney, Director of Operations at DS+B, was recently part of a panel discussion sponsored by Club Entrepreneur and covered by Upsize Minnesota. The topic was business best practices - or rather, what mistakes business owners can avoid. The panel was made of professionals services providers with related expertise in business management, IT, finance, strategy and accounting.

Are You Ready for MACRA?

As of July 2016, studies showed that only 50 percent of nonpediatric physicians were aware of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015. But with the onset of the new year, medical professionals can no longer afford to be in the dark. DS+B's healthcare advisory team can help you get a clear picture of the financial impact MACRA could have on your practice.

4 Tips for Establishing an Advisory Board

It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day details of running a successful business. But it's important to take a step back every now and then. From afar, you can better assess where you are and where you're headed. Sharing this view with an advisory board can help to keep your business on the right track.

Federal Judge Blocks New Overtime Rule Set to Take Effect on December 1st

On Tuesday November 22nd, U.S. District Judge agreed with 21 states and a coalition of business groups and granted a preliminary injunction to the Obama administration's new overtime rules. The rule, issued by the Labor Department, was to take effect on December 1st and would have doubled the minimum salary exemption to $47,500.

Four Smart Moves for Choosing (or Changing) Your Business Structure

Choosing a business structure is a decision that should never be taken lightly. While income taxation and owner liability are the primary differences between a C corporation, S corporation, or limited liability company (LLC), there are other lesser-known variations that could significantly impact your business. The good news is business structures aren’t set in stone; … Continued

When Does a Business with Multiple Owners Need a Buy-Sell Agreement?

Unfortunately, death, divorce and disagreements happen in life. But when they happen in a business with multiple owners, the complexity can create unintended consequences for the remaining owners, families and employees. An important protection in these cases is a properly drafted and executed buy-sell agreement to assist owners, an estate and the company for an … Continued

How Business Owners Can Avoid Mistakes That Derail Successful Companies

At a recent panel discussion with other Twin Cities business advisors, Jen Verly, CPA, was asked about the top business mistakes that business owners should learn from others, and avoid. The workshop was titled "Avoid the Avoidable" and was sponsored by UPSIZE Magazine with Club Entrepreneurship and held at the Minneapolis Club.

Mergers + Acquisitions Best Practices | A Recent Panel Discussion Featured In Upsize Minnesota

On March 26th, I was part of an expert panel organized by Club Entrepreneur and Upsize Minnesota Magazine. The event was held at the Minneapolis Club where business owners and various professionals could ask the panel questions as well as participate in the discussion. The panel featured accounting, legal, broker and merger specialists as well as a business owner who shared his recent experience going through the process.

Event Recap: Total Practice Improvement

Process improvement benefits the organization because it provides a model to improve the quality and profitability in a structured, ordered and measurable way. The TPI program is designed to

Cloud Based Computer System Backup

If you have been thinking about a better way to handle you system backup you should consider cloud based backup. Cloud based backup services are a smart choice for many small businesses because they offer an easy, secure way to get backup data off site. This is a key part of any disaster recovery plan.

Work ON Your Business, Not Just IN Your Business – Why I Believe In Peer Groups

Being a trusted business advisor is more than having all the answers (or thinking you do) – it’s about connecting with other leaders and continually expanding your own knowledge base with outside perspectives. I’ve found that peer groups offer a great opportunity to make the connections that can help you grow your business.

Say Goodbye to Windows XP

It is time to start replacing your old Windows XP PCs. Microsoft will drop support for the XP operating system on April 8, 2014. While this does not mean that your XP PCs will stop working, it does mean that Microsoft will no longer provide security patches or updates for the operating system.

Business Interruption Claims May Require Financial and Legal Assistance

Business interruption insurance typically pays for income that is lost while operations are suspended after a natural or man-made disaster. However, these claims can be difficult and even contentious if there are differences of interpretation about the calculations, projections or the meaning of policy provisions.