Category Archives: Management Issues

Revenue is revenue, right?

by Kelly Dies, Soundpoint Consulting

A dollar is a dollar. That’s true. And, all revenue is equal. Right? Well no, not in an investor’s or potential buyer’s eye. So what makes some revenue good and other revenue better? 

Recurring

Recurring revenue is highly desirable because is it known and predictable. The best example of this is an auto-renewal fee or service charge periodically charged directly to a customer’s credit card. Once the initial sale is complete there are no more costs to acquire a customer. The revenue stream is much like an annuity. Continue to provide the goods or services as promised and the revenue keeps coming in. 

Great examples of this are insurance premiums and streaming fees. Once customers have decided to purchase the product – and assuming they remain content, they are happy to have their credit card billed automatically. 

In contrast, consulting and attorney fees are often one-time in nature. Revenue ceases when the project is complete and the engagement ends. 

High Switching Costs

Revenue generated from products or services that have high switching costs are more reliable than from those which do not. Switching costs can vary from technical reliance to data lock-up to high start-up costs with a new vendor.

A great example of high switching costs includes services which are outsourced, such as payroll processing. The cost to bring the work in-house is significant as you would have to hire and train a staff of people for this function.  Likewise, a bank account with automatic bill pay also has high switching costs, as unwinding those (recurring) transactions is a pain in the neck!

High switching costs in combination with recurring revenue results in some very high quality revenue. Take for example, my relationship with Constant Contact which reliably sends these monthly newsletters to you on my behalf. My credit card is billed monthly. And, it would be a quite an undertaking to transfer my email list to another email provider. Do you think

Constant Contact is at risk of losing my revenue? Absolutely not!

Loyal Customers

Revenue from a loyal customer base is extremely valuable. Not only does it guarantee repeat business but it potentially means additional business from referrals, thus significantly reducing the overall need for marketing and advertising spend.  

Good examples of this are a trusted relationship with your tax preparer or a favorite clothing store. Although switching costs may not be high, loyalty keeps you from looking elsewhere.   

Consider two comparable stores with the only difference being the loyalty of the customer base. The store with the more loyal customers has less customer churn and doesn’t have to work as hard for every dollar of revenue. Conversely, the store without the loyal customers has to work hard for every dollar earned. Not surprisingly, the investor/banker/ potential buyer will value the first store more. 

What are you doing to earn and keep the loyalty of your customers? 

High Margins

All businesses have revenue streams with different margins. Revenue that generates higher gross margins is more valuable than revenue which generates lower margins. Makes sense. You cannot generate much income from a revenue stream that is saddled with large variable costs.  

And, if a revenue stream costs more to produce than the dollars it generates, well that is not good. It’s like giving someone $1 in exchange for 85¢. Do this in too often and you will soon be out of business. 

The bottom line – know and manage your unit costs. Try to divert revenue from your lower margin products to those with higher margins. 

Diversified

Just like an investment portfolio, a diversified customer and supplier base is less risky than if you are highly dependent upon a handful of them. 

If one of your largest customers were to transfer business to a competitor, how quickly can your business recover? Or, if your largest suppliers were to run into financial difficulties, could you weather the storm? 

If your business model is highly dependent upon Google, Amazon or Microsoft, what happens if they change how they do business with companies such as yours? Trust me, you do not have much negotiating power with these guys. 

A good rule of thumb is that your top 5 customers should not be responsible for more than 15% of your total revenue. A similar metric should hold for suppliers. 

If you would like assistance improving the quality of your revenue, please give me a call. I would be happy to help.

Top 10 bookkeeping mistakes by small businesses.

couple working on finances

From one-person entities to Fortune 500 companies, no business can escape the dreaded task of bookkeeping. While it’s definitely not one of the more glamorous parts of the job, bookkeeping is at the heart of small business success, which means errors can be crippling.

To avoid the financial headaches that come with bookkeeping mismanagement, it’s important first to be aware of the pitfalls that can ensnare you. Continue reading

Yes, you can manage your time more effectively.

With so many responsibilities as a business owner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and fall short on what you want to accomplish. If you’re a new business owner who formerly worked for someone else, you may have discovered that managing time has become more challenging. 

That’s natural. After all, you’ve gone from having your work schedule and priorities set for you to needing to prioritize every project and task related to running your business. Time management doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it’s an essential skill that can be developed with some attention and effort.  Continue reading

What’s the best way to pay your employees?

by Joe Heinrich, SCORE Seattle

Congratulations!! You’ve grown your small business so much that you need help, and so you’ve hired your first employee. Now you’re confronted with the task of paying that employee properly in accordance with IRS regulations and State of Washington statutes, along with making payments to taxing authorities and reporting to them periodically. And now you’re stomach’s churning!!

payroll

Overview

To correctly pay an employee in Washington, the employer needs to deduct the following taxes from the employee’s pay and report and remit timely these amounts to the relative taxing authorities:

  • Social Security Tax and Medicare Tax (just the employee’s share)
  • Federal Income Tax
  • Washington Labor & Industry Premiums (just the employee’s share)
  • Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Tax (just the employee’s share)

There may be other withholdings from the employee’s pay, such as garnishments for child support, contributions to a retirement plan, donations, and the like. Continue reading

It’s Time to Budget for 2020

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

Most businesses are on a fiscal year which coincides with the calendar year. Now is a good time to look back and reflect on 2019 as well as look forward and create a new budget for 2020.

A budget is a roadmap. Based on where you have been, it can help guide you to the desired final destination for year-end.

If you stay on the current course – where will you end up? Alternatively, if you change the route – where will you be at the end of the year? It is up to you to decide which path is the most profitable and most likely to be achieved.

Here are a few things to think about as you prepare your budget. Continue reading

4 Tips for Adding a Partner to Your Business

handshakeFinding and adding a business partner to an existing company is about more than going into business with a friend or family member. How you add a partner typically hinges on your business entity. Depending on how you incorporated your business, entrepreneurs will need to conduct a bit of due diligence in order to properly bring on a business partner.

From an LLC to a general partnership, let’s break down what you need to do now to prepare to add a partner to your business. Continue reading

11 Changes to Make Your Business Better

same old thinking same old results

How often do you make changes in your business?
Like most entrepreneurs, I love “shaking things up.”

Here are 11 changes you can make in your life and your business for a more exciting, enriching and profitable future.

1. Update your business technology.

Tech tools enable small businesses to run as productively as big ones. Are you taking full advantage of them? Assess which technologies would help you do business more effectively in the coming year, whether that’s new computer hardware, switching to more sophisticated business apps, or using cloud storage and collaboration tools to streamline your workload.

2. Get organized.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, lighten the load by cleaning out your office. You’ve probably gone digital in many aspects of your business, but you might still have old folders or file cabinets full of paper documents. Purging those piles and files of paper will make you feel more focused. Shred what you no longer need; scan important documents you still need to save and store them in the cloud instead. If they contain sensitive financial or personal data, make sure they’re encrypted and protected from access except by employees who need them.

Continue reading

What resources help women entrepreneurs succeed?

According to the 2017 State Of Women-owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express, women-owned businesses now account for nearly 40 percent of all companies in the United States. With the increase in the number of women-owned firms a whopping 114 percent (compared to the 44 percent increase among all businesses) from 1997 to 2017, it’s evident women entrepreneurs are a powerful force within the U.S. economy.   Continue reading

Your Business Roundtable

Kitsap SCORE and local Chambers of Commerce are working to develop a series of roundtable discussions for people who want to solve problems, find opportunities, and grow their businesses. Please share your answers to four simple questions and help us pick the best time to meet and choose topics for conversations.