Build a Business, Not a Job

Monthly Roundup of David Finkel’s articles posted on INC.com and Huffington Post

David Finkel was recently invited by INC.com and Huffington Post to blog on their business website twice a week.

Here is a monthly roundup of the articles that David has posted on INC.com and Huffington Post.  Below are excerpts from the articles that have been posted and to read the entire blog post, simply click on the name of the article.

Why Control Is a Trap that Will Slow Your Business Growth (and what to do about it)

Tom owned a successful computer equipment wholesale company.  To the outside world he had “made it”.  His business enjoyed sales of $5 million per year and Tom was earning over a million of profit per year.

But he was burning out fast.  The 80 hour weeks he was working was impacting his health, his marriage, and his role as a father.  He just felt stuck. 

He knew he needed to find a way out from the crushing pressures of running his business day-to-day, but he didn’t want to step back because he feared his business would suffer.

Have you ever felt that way?  Like you’re trapped by your business?  Either you continue to put in the hours and make all the key decisions, or you step back and the business might falter?

7 Ways to Deal with Overwhelm in Your Company

According to a recent survey we conducted of 500 business owners, over 70% reported feeling “overwhelmed” running their companies.  They felt pulled in too many directions, like they were wearing too many hats, with no time to take a breath and regroup.

Can you relate?  Here are seven concrete tactics to deal with overwhelm in your company.  Pick one or two to immediately implement to bring some sanity and joy back into the process of growing your company.

  1. Pick one “bottom line” for the day, and get it done by 10:30am.
    A bottom line is the one thing that if you did it today would have the biggest positive impact on helping your company reach its most important goals.  The best daily bottom lines take no more than 30-60 minutes (if you have an idea that would take longer, chunk it down into a smaller bite for that day.)

The 4 Most Common Causes of Cash Flow Challenges (and what to do about them)

One of the biggest obstacles to scaling your company is cash flow.  Yet when a company struggles with cash flow they generally have a knee jerk reaction, “We need more sales.”  The painful truth is that often more sales is the worst thing for that company, as the cash flow challenge comes from a different cause.

Here is a simple diagnosis tree to follow down to get to the root of your cash flow challenges.  You’ll notice that only one is poor sales.

Cash Flow Challenge Cause #1:  Poor collection on your receivables.  It’s my observation that many businesses ignore this vital function because they are uncomfortable asking people or companies for money.

Yet the cost to the business can be massive, and only compound as the company grows.  Remember, once you make a sale you have all those costs of goods sold.  If you don’t collect on that sale you’re actually worse off than if you never made the sale in the first place.

8 Lessons When Selling Your Company that Every Business Owner Should Know

One of the benefits of writing business books is that I’m often invited to give keynotes to large business groups and associations.  One of the most common questions I get asked at the end of my talk while I’m meeting with the attendees is the following:

David, what do you wish you would have known about selling a company that no one told you before you sold?

I still remember the sale of my first company roughly 10 years ago.  It was a real estate training company with just over $3 million per year of EBITDA, one partner, and no outside investors.

I felt excited, scared, intimidated – it was an emotional roller coaster.

I worried that my first buyer wouldn’t; if my staff would find out too early in the process and leave; if my customers would hear of the sale and defect.  I had spent a decade building the company from scratch and it was my first time selling a business.   

Here are the 8 lessons I wished I would have known back then (which have helped me enormously in the sale of later companies) but had to learn the hard way.

5 Ways to Raise the Accountability Bar Inside Your Company

It’s one thing to create a grand plan to grow your company, it is a whole other thing to get your team consistently executing.

The most essential “in the trenches” key to execution is to raise the accountability bar inside your company so that each team member feels like what he or she does is seen, noticed, and applauded.

Here are 5 ways to create a culture of execution and accountability inside your company.

4 Barriers to Scaling Your Company

Before writing, SCALE, with my friend and co-author Jeff Hoffman (co-founder Priceline.com) we had a deep discussion of the most common and predictable road blocks that stall most entrepreneurs as they grow their companies.

We were sitting at a TV station in Salt Lake City for a series of interviews and we went back over our business pasts and the history of the companies we had observed over the past 20 years. 

Here is a summary of the conclusions we drew about the 4 barriers to scaling your company—and how you can get through and past each one.  You’ll notice that each of these barriers is about your mindset first, and the business only second.

3 Simple Steps to Get Back In Control of Your Day

Time to get real.  As the CEO of your company it’s likely that you’re currently pulled in so many directions that it often feels like you don’t own your day, rather your day (and the demands it brings) owns you.

In fact, one comment I consistently hear from business owners whom I meet at the conference I am speaking at is that because they are wearing so many hats, and have so many demands on their time, that they just don’t know where to start to get back on top of their day.

And as a result, they waste hours putting out fires that just help today but don’t really build value for tomorrow.

Are you ready for this to change?  Here is a simple 3-step formula you can apply each week to get back in control of your business day.  The goal is to help you gain the order you need to build a business you love owning again, even in the face of all the conflicting demands on your time and attention.

The 4 Biggest Hiring Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

If you’re like most entrepreneurs you’ve learned how to hire the old-fashioned way – by painful trial and error.  The problem with that (besides the cost and heartache) is that even if you’ve found things that work, you’re likely not hiring as well as you could giving a bit of outside coaching.

Here are the four most costly hiring mistakes that I’ve observed business owners make over the past 20 years I’ve been coaching entrepreneurs, and how you can avoid making these same mistakes yourself.

3 Ways to Protect Your Company from Fraud, Theft, and Embezzlement

Private companies are prime targets for fraud. According to the Association of Fraud Examiners in 2010, 42 percent of fraud cases happened in privately held companies, with the majority being in companies with fewer than 100 employees.  What’s more, the average fraud continued for a year and a half before it was even detected with the median loss in all these fraud cases a devastating $231,000 per case.

Here are the three most important financial control concepts to protect yourself and your company from fraud, theft, and embezzlement.