When is the future?
The future is now. “Now” is your 90-day plan. Plan every element of your business. Plan every contingency. Plan what you would sell your business for if someone walked in with a checkbook. Plan up close because that’s where things are happening.
What is the future?
The future is cash. The future is consolidation. The future is a supply chain that does not favor small and medium-sized customers like you. The future is giant providers saturating the continent, competing with you in any service category they wish.
How is the future?
The future is unsympathetic. The future is banks that have closed local branches, reduced local workforce, and removed all face-to-face options. The future is transportation that costs more and brings goods to next-level distributors who will impact your ability to get materials in a timely and undamaged manner.
The future is employees who will need more flexibility with their time, families and jobs. The future is workers moving to affordable cities and leaving large swaths of jobs unfilled. The future is bright employees who want more from work and expect to advance more quickly. The future is fewer long-term employees, more expensive specialty workers, and more workers who will demand to use the technology of their choice.
What else is the future?
The future is investors who find our industry attractive. The future is buyers who want to purchase multiple companies to fulfill their own plans. The future is making yourself attractive enough to be acquired when the doors are open.
The future is making yourself profitable enough to survive the ebbs and flows of the economy and the likelihood of lost customers. The future is allying yourself with people who can help you jump ahead.
The future is now
In the last few months I have reframed my offerings to serve more business owners wherever they are at the moment, providing options for engagements that will move the needle for them.
For those ready to sell, I am providing a framework for them to meet qualified buyers. I am serving buyers by connecting them with interested and motivated sellers. I am helping deals flow.
A new future for The Bottom Line
Things are changing faster than at any point in my 45-year career. My response? First, I have launched two new websites: The Deal Flow Guy (thedealflowguy.com) and LaManna Consulting Group (LaMannaConsultingGroup.com).
Second, I am fulfilling my stated commitment to disrupt the buy-sell landscape in our industry. I’m throwing out the traditional broker fee model and revolutionizing how businesses are bought and sold. I am shattering the old fee structure so owners can actually afford to sell their businesses now while there’s a known demand – not in the murky future.
Finally, I am turning the page on this column, which I have been writing for Label & Narrow Web for almost 10 years. The name – “The Bottom Line” – will change. The honesty and frankness you expect from me, that will not change.
However, my focus on operations and cost savings will migrate to a new and powerful message of empowerment, purposeful activity and deal flow.
The future is flow
I’ll be coming to you in 2021 in this space as The Deal Flow Guy. I hope that idea excites you as much as it does me. I’ll be your guide in how to take massive action toward your desired future.
Disrupt. Upend. Reinvent. Wipe the slate clean and start anew.
The future is now.
Rock LaManna is The Deal Flow Guy. He helps qualified buyers and investors find businesses that are ready for sale or transition. Visit TheDealFlowGuy.com to obtain a customized no-fee VBS business valuation along with information on how to get your business in front of today’s buyers and investors.
Question: I own a small label converting business, and I would like to sell my company at some point. I am trying to ease out of the day-to-day activities so I can show a buyer that the business can run without me. How does a small business owner make this transition, realistically?
Answer: In any environment, especially today, it’s crucial that your business be able to run without you. In a small business, it is hard to take care of everything with your existing staff without sacrificing something, just as you describe. Yet business owners do it every day. Yes, it requires planning, and, yes, it requires trust in your people.
Start by bringing in the best industry experts with a proven record of helping owners grow and succeed. In my decades advising label and flexible packaging businesses, the first thing we have to do is take an honest look at your financials and ratios. Our first phase with your financials will help you decide how and when you can hire a manager. The second phase with your financials will be to prepare for the business sale down the road. It’s vital to have monthly and year-end financials prepared accurately and promptly so you an make the best decisions.
Whatever the size of your business, there are optimal operating ranges that will improve your bottom line. I know it doesn’t seem that way, but small businesses are almost always overstaffed. Look at job descriptions, wages, hours, overtime, contract labor, employment taxes, benefits and incentive packages, and sales-per-employee. Be sure all expenses are being booked properly by your bookkeeper. Amend your chart of accounts if necessary to track and gain insight. Use your financials and your budget to make better predictions and help you get the most out of every dollar. These savings will help you partially fund a new position, but you will have to achieve sales efficiency as well. You and your sales person will have to push out of your comfort zone and go after jobs that have a higher profit margin without incurring proportionally more costs. Having a profitable operation will help when it comes time to sell.
Finally, set a timeline for hiring a manager. Choose a trustworthy talent recruiter or professional placement service that specializes in our industry. With the help of your advisor and a professional employment recruiter, look at how general managers are compensated in our industry so you can craft a realistic package. Position your business as an attractive place to work, and then live up to that image.