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3 Ways To Build A Community That Leads To Business Success

community

3 Ways To Build A Community That Leads To Business Success

In the business world, making new connections and interacting with people — commonly known as networking — is essential in achieving and sustaining success.
But Ngan Nguyen (www.nganhnguyen.com), an intelligent leadership coach and author of Self-Defined Success: You Have Everything It Takes, says taking the next step beyond networking is where some people stumble. She calls that next step “community-building” and it can only happen with consistent relationship-building.
“Networking means little if strong relationships aren’t built for the long haul, sustained, and other connections don’t spawn from those relationships,” Nguyen says. “Being open and available for when opportunities come is what positions us to move forward. But you really can’t do so if you haven’t done enough relationship-building in order to build the community you need around you.
“Weaving a wide net of connection is the essence of community-building, which provides a solid foundation of true support to help you keep moving forward in business. It’s taught to a degree in networking, but building a community requires much more than honing that perfectly scripted pitch, going to countless networking events, talking to as many people as you can and handing out your card. What is required is the ability to build, foster, and hold relationships.”
Nguyen offers these ways to build relationships and a community of support around you:
Believe in the value of you. “Inwardly and outwardly, be clear about who you are and what you offer as a person,” Nguyen says. “Fully believe in the value of you, before your product. When you embody the confidence of your message, clients will clearly see your value and be more likely to buy.”
Seek to give, not to pitch. “Giving to others genuinely creates goodwill, and as you show you care for others, you build a rapport and they naturally are drawn to you,” Nguyen says. “Scrap the elevator pitch. Be real and someone people want to know. People will refer people they like, people who had an impact on them with their kindness. It’s much more effective than the salesperson at a networking event circling the room and handing out cards.”
Be in the right place, right time. Nguyen says one needs to trust their intuition to find the right networking places where long-term relationships can spawn. “You hone your intuition so it guides you to the right place, where you can be in the perfect opportunity that will skyrocket your success,” Nguyen says. “People do business with people they know, like, and trust. To find an environment that fosters this, seek out events that are more likely to attract a culture of giving and fun so it is more likely to build friendships. Then, business can happen naturally and organically.”
“The miracles and best things in our lives are often influenced by other people,” Nguyen says. “To build influence and a community of people who support you and constantly send you referrals requires relationships that keep growing, and much of that depends on what you put into it and how sincere you are.”
__________________________________________________________________
Ngan Nguyen (www.nganhnguyen.com) is the author of Self-Defined Success: You Have Everything It Takes, and the founder/CEO of Cintamani Group, an executive coaching and consulting firm. Nguyen coaches on leadership and empowers entrepreneurs as an intuitive strategist. She is partnering with Secret Knock and WeWork to bring a major networking event to Boston on Dec. 11 for entrepreneurs and business leaders.
With over a decade of business strategy experience as an advisor to Fortune 100 companies, Nguyen is also a certified master-level intelligent leadership executive coach with John Mattone and was an analyst for McKinsey & Company. Nguyen graduated with a double honors degree in biochemistry-biophysics and bioengineering from Oregon State University and completed a research fellowship at MIT in nanotechnology.
employees

Why Sending Your Workers ‘Back to School’ is Good Business

Learning shouldn’t stop when someone earns a diploma or degree, and that’s especially true in the workplace where the company’s fate – and an employee’s career – could rest on the constant thirst to learn and improve.

“Developing a culture of continued education and continuous improvement is critical if you want to retain your staff and provide them with advancement opportunities,” says Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), founder and CEO of PFSbrands and author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success.

Essentially, Burcham says, sending employees “back to school” is good business, but that doesn’t mean you need to enroll them in Harvard’s MBA program.

“There’s plenty you can do right within your own doors and that employees can do on their own,” he says.

A few examples, Burcham says, include:

Establish in-house training programs. “Many companies spend thousands of dollars to send their employees to seminars or conferences,” Burcham says. “This strategy is fine, but personal growth starts by training in the workplace.” One example at PFSbrands, he says, was the creation of a Financial Literacy Committee that worked to make sure employees were educated about the financial aspects of the company, helping them to understand income statements and balance sheets. “This makes everyone more aware of the challenges involved with achieving profitability,” Burcham says. “Furthermore, this education provides everyone an opportunity to see how they can impact the company’s profitability and enhance their opportunity for additional income.”

Encourage everyone to read books for personal development. “One of my biggest regrets and mistakes in life is that I didn’t start reading books until age 40,” Burcham says. Now, he has created a book club at his company to encourage and incentivize everyone to continue to grow and learn, and he requires the senior-leadership team to read a minimum of 12 books a year. “I’ve seen dozens of people improve their lives as a result of implementing our book club,” he says.

Target lifelong learners in recruiting efforts. You can encourage employees to develop a continuous-improvement mindset, but it’s also possible to find people with that mindset in the hiring process, Burcham says. “We’ve found that lifelong learners are a great fit at PFSbrands, so we’ve developed systems and processes that help us to recruit these types of individuals,” he says. “Employees who don’t make an effort to continuously learn and improve will ultimately find themselves at another company. We train our leaders to not avoid the critical conversations with individuals who are not working toward improvement.”

“Despite how many degrees hang on the walls in their offices, wise leaders are committed to never stop learning,” Burcham says. “Whether it’s done in-house or at an industry conference, you owe it to yourself and your employees to engage in continued education. After all, a successful company’s growth is dependent on the capabilities of its employees.”

____________________________________________________

Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, is the founder & CEO of PFSbrands, which he and his wife, Julie, started out of their home in 1998. The company has over 1,500 branded foodservice locations across 40 states and is best known for their Champs Chicken franchise brand which was started in 1999. Prior to starting PFSbrands, Burcham spent five years with a Fortune 100 company, Mid-America Dairymen (now Dairy Farmers of America). He also worked for three years as a Regional Sales Manager for a midwest Chester’s Fried chicken distributor.

How Small Business Should Think About Financing in 2019

It’s no secret that over half of small businesses close their doors within the first five years. One of the critical problems that often occur has little to do with the innovation, ingenuity, or work ethic of the small business owners themselves, but rather the lack of access to sufficient capital to cover the ebbs and flows of their operation and its associated costs. 

Scaling any idea or enterprise, to me, is less often about “entrepreneurship” —and other catchy terms we can print on a business card— and more about meeting the demands of others, like payroll and customer expectations. Simply put: small business owners need capital resources— they need cash. 

Historically, small businesses have had limited options to access capital: savings, friends and family, credit cards, traditional bank loans, or the occasional SBA loan. Enter the financial crisis of 2008-2009, which ushered in a new regulatory environment that contracted these historic capital resources, thereby creating the market-driven need and demand for non-traditional banking options.

Consequently, we find ourselves operating in a new era, one in which enterprising nonbank funders have brought novel and different capital products to the small business market. This has been largely accomplished through an ambitious mix of fintech and financial innovation. These previously unavailable financing options give small businesses more resources to consider than ever before. Now their next step is to explore them and consider how their small business might decide on the best option for their specific needs. 

As we contemplate these innovations, here’s a quick list of some of the best financing options available to small businesses in 2019:

Business Term Loans: Best for businesses looking for working capital, equipment purchases, or to purchase inventory or other fixed assets. For short-term loans, it can often be matched to a specific project and repaid to coincide with the completion of that project in 6 to 12 months. For longer-term loans, the repayment can be stretched out to 3 to 10 years, but these often require higher levels of collateral coverage or a personal guaranty by the business owner. 

Pros: Great product for larger one-time investments with targeted cash loans

bflow that payments can be matched. 

Cons: Larger dollar amounts and a longer payback term will require increased time, energy (think: bank meetings and interviews), and documentation. 

Equipment Financing: Best for one-off purchases like restaurant equipment and machinery. 

Pros: no upfront spend; if the business owner has impaired credit the fact an asset is involved as collateral can make it easier vs. purchasing the equipment; and tax-deductible.

Cons: Overall cost is usually more expensive in the long-run; cost inclusive of fees if the lease is terminated early can be substantial; and must take into account all terms and conditions that can be complicated (who handles and addresses a break-down in the equipment? etc).

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan: Best for business owners who need capital for a variety of longer-term business expenses. It is government guaranteed so the process can be daunting and is processed through a bank that has an SBA loan program. 

Pros: Cost and longer-term repayment; great product for owner-occupied real estate.  

Cons: Requirements are strict; process is time-consuming (60 to 180 days); high upfront fees; and requires strong personal credit scores.


Business Line of Credit (“LoC”): Best for businesses with more volatile sales and cash flow. Flexibility to drawdown and repay based on the needs of your business.  Often secured by accounts receivable and inventory. Some LoC’s offered by FinTech operators do not require business collateral but do require a personal guaranty.  

Pros: Can access quickly (assuming facility is in place) to solve urgent issues or expenses; and great for managing working capital needs and the business’ short-term cash flow needs.  

Cons: Reporting can be much more intensive vs. other products available; upfront and ongoing fees can be expensive, especially if the LOC is rarely drawn down.


Revenue-Based Financing: This is a financing option where the repayment schedule is tied to the future revenue of the business. The genesis of the product is that the funder operates as more of a partner and is taking some level of “equity-risk”. If the revenue decreases or the business fails, the repayment is either stretched out or in the case the business fails the funder has no recourse. Small businesses can utilize this product for project financing, working capital, growth investments, or short-term needs. 

Pros: Quick access; repayment risk mirrors the revenue; no business or personal recourse except in the case of fraud.  

Cons: Products are generally 12 months or less; more expensive given level of risk with limited recourse; reporting can be intensive as changes to payment schedules requires bank and financial verification.

Invoice Factoring: The business can turn its unpaid invoices into immediate cash. The invoice factoring company collects directly from the customers and distributes capital to the business, net of its fee. 

Pros: good for managing cash flow; typically a short-term financing product (30 to 90 days).  

Cons: cost can be expensive, especially if repaid much quicker than anticipated; can be disruptive notifying customers to change their payment instructions to the factoring company; requires technology integration or higher level of reporting and the business’ customers will be dealing directly with your funder if they delay payment – not you as the business owner.  

Angel Investors/ Venture Capital: Best for small businesses who want to scale quickly. 

Pros: entrepreneurial background provides increased insights and foresight vs. dealing with alternative finance providers, banks, or the government; larger investor network to leverage for additional funds or additional business; and capital remains in the business (vs. interest costs). 

Cons: Higher rates of returns expected (typically at least 5x their investment); requires giving up equity in the business; process will be intensive; typically reserved for high visibility, disruptive companies pursuing large addressable markets on a national or global scale; and will require operating agreement additions to governance to protect their investment in the case of underperformance.

Bootstrapping: Best for businesses with principals that have savings or expendable income who want to preserve equity ownership and cash in the business. 

Pros: maintain ownership position and keeps all cash generated either in the business or available for dividends. 

Cons: Growth limited to the owner’s cash position; risk missing market opportunity because thinly capitalized; challenging if a short-term need requires more cash than available.

While the pros and cons of this list provide a guide to financing in 2019, any financing decision should ultimately come down to your assessment of the cash flows of the business (today and in the near term), demonstrated capacity to handle credit, costs versus profit opportunity (positive ROI), and repayment thresholds. 

The good news is, enabling technology allows small business owners to access various forms of capital quickly and efficiently. There is no day like today to explore options to fund entrepreneurial dreams. 

 

Vincent Ney is a founder and CEO of Expansion Capital Group, a business dedicated to serving American small businesses by providing access to capital and other resources so they can grow and achieve their definition of success. Since inception, ECG has connected over 12,000 small businesses nationwide to approximately $350 million in capital 

multichannel

How to Benefit from Multichannel World for Your Global Business

When running an international business, your company needs to have a versatile marketing strategy. There’s no way out of it if you want to remain relevant and competitive. 

Global businesses around the world employ multichannel marketing strategies to target their international audiences, which, in their turn, are getting more and more demanding. To comply with the needs of their target audiences, international businesses diversify their business promotion strategies by exploring the world of multichannel marketing. 

Here are some stats to prove the rising demand for the multichannel world:

95% of marketers recognize the importance of multichannel marketing and the role it plays in targeting

-73% of marketers already have a multichannel marketing strategy in place

-Businesses that employ multichannel marketing achieve over 90% year-to-year customer retention rates

Consumers support businesses that have an active multichannel marketing strategy, giving their preference to the companies that have several social media channels with customer support chatbots, a variety of content, and a branded app in addition to the desktop and mobile versions of a company website. 

So, as you can imagine, achieving all these objectives puts a lot of financial pressure on your company. Running a global business already involves substantial investment, so putting extra money and effort into a multichannel marketing strategy may seem like something secondary. 

In reality, however, your multichannel marketing efforts have a huge influence on the success of your international business. The way you run your marketing strategy affects the relationship with your target audience. Hence, if you don’t have this relationship, you won’t have success in the international market. 

So, let’s take a look at how your global business can benefit from the multichannel world (with tips and examples of how to implement a multichannel marketing strategy). 

Localized Social Media Accounts

According to Hootsuite, 40% of digital consumers use social networks to research new brands and products. When looking for a product, consumers go on a research hunt, digging as much information about a brand as possible. 

But if you’re running a global business, you need to make sure that all the information about your company can be accessible to your international audience in their native language. Thus, if you want to benefit from the multichannel world, you need to take your marketing strategy a step further and create localized social media accounts. 

You have definitely already seen many examples of this strategy in action. IKEA, for instance, runs several Instagram accounts in different languages. Here are the examples of their Instagram accounts in French:

… and in Polish:

Image credit: IKEA Polska

If you visit IKEA’s international Instagram pages, you’ll see that all their content is localized, including stories, hashtags, and, of course, image descriptions. 

Having a localized social media marketing strategy helps your global business:

-You create personalized connections with your international audience

-You help them reach your business faster, which gives you a competitive advantage

-It increases your website traffic on the local markets

On top of that, having localized social media profiles helps you diversify your multichannel marketing strategy and strengthen your global presence. 

Mobile App, Available Worldwide

Running a multichannel marketing strategy presupposes the launch of mobile app as well. Desktop Internet usage is falling, mobile internet usage is rising, and hence, the demand for apps keeps growing. 

There are three main reasons why your international brand needs an app:

-Better user experience – when targeting a foreign market, you need your target audience to perceive you not as a someone alien and unknown but as a trustworthy brand that caters to the needs of its target audience;

-A more personalized approach – having an app allows you to analyze and better understand each user’s individual session, understand their needs, and create a more personalized user experience;

-Creating a direct marketing channel – with an app, special offers and promotions will be right at your target user’s fingertips. 

For international business, having an app also presupposes app localization for every country, where the business operates. For instance, Flatfy, an international real estate company, has translated its app Korter to cater to the needs of their audience in Kazakhstan, Romania, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. 

Having a localized app helps a global business build brand recognition and cultivate customer loyalty by improving customer experience. 

Multilanguage Customer Support

Internet users often contact brands through social media. Thus, the need for accessing customer support through social media keeps growing. The growing demand for chatbots shows how traditional marketing and customer support can benefit from a digital twist and improve the brand-customer relationship. 

From the standpoint of multichannel marketing, a chatbot is another channel for the customers to access your brand. For global businesses, however, creating a chatbot that can speak different languages is a must since, for the seamless customer support experience, your audience needs to feel confident when communicating any issues with your customer service. 

Sephora is one of the brands that run their Facebook chatbot in the world’s most spoken languages, including English and Spanish:

Having a localized customer support channel is another step to establishing a strong and long-lasting relationship with your international audience. 

Localization is Key

If you take a closer look at all the three above-mentioned points, you’ll notice that localization is a prerequisite of running a multichannel marketing strategy on an international scale. 

Since multichannel marketing involves a variety of channels, which (unlike in omnichannel marketing) operate individually, you need to make sure that all these channels have high quality in order to perform to their full capacity and bring value to your international audience. 

So, take your global business’s multichannel marketing strategy to the next level and start speaking the languages of your foreign audiences. This way you’ll ensure the success of your marketing efforts and remain competitive on the global market. 

________________________________________________________________

Ryan is a passionate writer who likes sharing his thoughts and experience with the readers. Currently, he works as a digital marketing specialist, you can check his website https://flatfy.ro. He likes everything related to traveling and new countries. 

questions

Hiring The Wrong People? Maybe You’re Asking Them The Wrong Questions.

A company’s intention in a job interview is to find the person who best fits a particular position. But recent research has shown that quite often, the candidate who was hired failed, and usually their exit was related to attitude issues that weren’t revealed in the interview.
That raises the question: Are interviewers asking the wrong questions — and consequently hiring the wrong people? Alex Zlatin, CEO of Maxim Software Systems (alexzlatin.com), says some traditional styles of interviewing are outdated, thus wasting time and resources while letting better candidates slip away.
“It still astounds me to meet HR professionals who lack the basic skills of interviewing,” says Zlatin, author of the book Responsible Dental Ownership. “In 2019, ‘tell me about yourself’ is still a way to start an interview, and that’s absurd. The only thing you get is people who describe the outline of their resume, which you already know.
“You want to get to know the candidate’s personality in the interview. In a normal setting, you would have about one hour to do this. But some traditional interview practices waste this precious time, and you can miss out on great talent and instead hire a mediocre one.”
Zlatin offers the following interview approaches to help HR leaders, recruiters and executives find the right candidate:
Make it a two-way conversation.  Zlatin says traditional interviewing focuses too much on the candidate’s skills and experience rather than on their motivation, problem-solving ability, and willingness to collaborate. Thus, he suggests configuring the interview in a non-traditional, informal way to gain insight into the candidate’s personality. “Rather than make most of the interview a rigid, constant question-and-answer format that can be limiting to both sides, have a two-way conversation and invite them to ask plenty of questions,” Zlatin says.
Flip their resume upside down.  “Surprise them by going outside the box and asking them something about themselves that isn’t on their resume or in their cover letter,” Zlatin says. “See how creatively they think and whether they stay calm. You want to see how a candidate thinks on their feet — a trait all companies value.”
Ask open-ended questions. Can this candidate make a difference in your company? Zlatin says answering that question should be a big aim of the interview. “Ask questions that allude to how they made a difference in certain situations at their past company,” Zlatin says. “Then present a hypothetical situation and ask how they would respond.”
Don’t ask cliched questions. Zlatin says some traditional interview questions only lead to candidates telling interviewers what the candidate thinks the company wants to hear. “Interviewers should stop asking pointless questions like, ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ “ Zlatin says. Or, ‘Why do you want to work for this company?’ Candidates rehearse these answers, and many of them are similar, so that doesn’t allow them to stand apart.”
Learn from the candidate’s questions. The questions candidates ask can indicate how deeply they’ve studied the company and how interested they really are. “A good candidate uses questions to learn about the role, the company, and the boss to assess whether it’s the right job for them,” Zlatin says.
Don’t take copious notes. Zlatin says the tendency by interviewers to write down the candidates answers and other observations is “a huge obstacle to building a solid two-way conversation because it removes the crucial element of eye contact.”
“An effectively done interview allows the employer to get both an in-depth and big-picture look at a candidate,” Zlatin says. “Judging whether they might fit starts with giving them more room to express in the interview.”
________________________________________________________________
Alex Zlatin, author of the book Responsible Dental Ownership (alexzlatin.com), had more than 10 years of management experience before he accepted the position of CEO of dental practice management company Maxim Software Systems. He earned his MBA at Edinburgh Business School and a B.Sc. in Technology Management at HIT in Israel. His company helps struggling dental professionals take control of their practices and reach the next level of success with responsible leadership strategies.
culture

Who’s Responsible For Your Company’s Culture? Look In The Mirror, Leaders.

Extensive research has shown that a positive work culture often results in productive employees who both value their work and feel valued themselves.
But company leadership, not the employees, usually creates that culture. Executives and managers have a significant responsibility to establish a positive culture that is conducive to company success.
“Culture can be thought of as the inner life of the organization,” says Cynthia Howard (www.eileadership.org), an executive coach, performance expert, and author of the book The Resilient Leader, Mindset Makeover: Uncover the Elephant in the Room.
“It is the self-sustaining mix of values, attitudes, and behavior that drives performance. Culture is the brand identity of the company, and it has the ability to attract and retain great talent or not. Thus, it’s incumbent on the leaders to be aware of their culture, what they can do to improve it, and honestly assess if it’s the kind of place where people want to be and want to grow.”
Another key reason that company leaders need to make work culture a high priority, Howard says, is because millennials — who comprise the largest segment of the workforce — rank culture as their top consideration when choosing where to work.
Howard offers five ways leaders can foster a positive work culture:
Model positive, respectful behavior. Howard says a positive work culture starts with the leader setting the tone, which can send the right message to leaders at other levels in the company. “Don’t play the blame game,” Howard says. “Encourage an environment where it’s OK to make mistakes and move forward. Frontline staff crave leaders who understand them and care about them, will mentor them, and will provide professional guidance to make fair and tough decisions.”
Show gratitude. “Show your gratitude and appreciation for accomplishments by acknowledging people during a meeting or with a note,” Howard says. “Celebrating wins lifts morale, and when people know they will be recognized for exceptional work, they’ll be more motivated.”
Communicate consistently and with clarity.  “Keep employees in the loop with consistent updates,” Howard says. “Give them regular feedback, not just at review time. This keeps people connected, feeling part of the team, and removes the mystery — and inherent tension — of where they stand. Create clear goals, and make everyone feel that they are necessary components toward reaching those goals. That inspires an environment of inclusion, pride and commitment.”
Really listen. “This is the important other side of communication that some leaders fail to master,” Howard says. “For the leaders underneath you and the employees throughout a company to truly feel valued, they have to know they have a voice and that it will be heard. Be open and encouraging to others’ ideas and solutions.”
Promote collaboration. One of a company leader’s primary jobs is getting the most out of their team — mainly by defining the importance of team. “Maximizing the strengths of a team means knowing each person’s uniqueness and talents and using them in the best possible way,” Howard says. “It also means creating a culture where everyone respects each other’s talents and is enthusiastic about working together for the greater good.”
“Poor culture leads to lots of turnover,” Howard says. “When you as a leader instill and insist on a positive culture, you reap the benefits. Happy, engaged employees mean a thriving company.”
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Cynthia Howard (www.eileadership.org) is an executive coach, performance expert and the author of The Resilient Leader, Mindset Makeover: Uncover the Elephant in the Room. She researched stress and its consequences in performance during her PhD. In the past 20-plus years she has coached thousands of professionals, leaders and executives toward emotional agility and engaged leadership. 
business

How Small Steps Can Drive Big Results For Your Business

In business, it’s the major leaps that people notice and remember.

Apple introduced the iPhone and the methods in which we communicate and gather information were changed forever. LEGO took some audacious steps over the last couple of decades and expanded its toy franchise into video games, TV and movies.

Big steps. Big results.

But not every move you make with your business or in your personal life needs to be of earth-shattering significance, says Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), founder and CEO of PFSbrands and author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success.

Sometimes, it’s the small steps that eventually lead to big rewards.

“One example with my own company is that there was a time when I didn’t believe in meetings,” Burcham says. “I thought they were a waste of time, probably because most of the meetings I had been in had indeed been a waste.”

But as his business grew, Burcham realized meetings are a necessity for communicating within a large organization. So, PFSbrands took the “small step” of instituting regularly scheduled meetings, which he says have been critical to accomplishing personal, departmental, and company-wide goals.

Burcham offers a few more examples of small steps that can pay big dividends for you and your business:

Make a habit of setting goals. “It may seem like a basic thing, but setting goals is crucial to success both personally and professionally,” Burcham says. “Everyone in your company should be setting goals, and regularly reviewing those goals and checking their progress.” Sounds easy enough, but this is one small step that many people don’t take. “That’s why just the act of setting goals already gives you a competitive advantage,” he says.

Write down those goals. Setting goals is a good first step, but don’t just memorize them, Burcham says. Write them down because studies have shown that people who do that are more likely to achieve what they are after than people without written goals.

Build an accountability system. One of the best ways to make sure you follow through on your goals is to create a network of people who will hold you accountable, Burcham says. If no one knows you set a goal, it’s easy to let it slide. But if there are people who know about your goal, and better yet are depending on you to accomplish it, then you are more likely to follow through. In a business, it’s good for everyone to know everyone else’s goals and every department’s goals. That way, Burcham says, you can all hold each other accountable.

Stop trying to do everything. Burcham suggests asking yourself what duties you can pass on to others because those activities are not a productive use of time and energy for you or for the company. “I’ve often made the mistake of hanging onto responsibilities far longer than necessary; everything from accounting, to email management, to sales management,” he says.  As a company grows, Burcham says, that small step of finding things you can stop doing will be crucial to success.

“While each of these individually may be a small step, they are all important for personal growth and your business’ success,” Burcham says. “If you don’t set goals, write them down, and work to improve, you’ll likely be the exact same person 12 months from now. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. Being who you are is okay, but the question is: Are you content with being the same? Or do you want to be better?”

_______________________________________________________________

Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, is the founder & CEO of PFSbrands, which he and his wife, Julie, started out of their home in 1998. The company has over 1,500 branded foodservice locations across 40 states and is best known for their Champs Chicken franchise brand which was started in 1999. Prior to starting PFSbrands, Burcham spent five years with a Fortune 100 company, Mid-America Dairymen (now Dairy Farmers of America). He also worked for three years as a Regional Sales Manager for a midwest Chester’s Fried chicken distributor.

Accounts

How to Overcome the Struggle of Multiple Account Reconciliations

How does a company end up with dozens, or even hundreds of
bank accounts? It’s not an uncommon situation for a large
enterprise, especially in industries such as hospitality, construction, or healthcare, where there are multiple locations and business entities under one umbrella. Or, maybe the company has grown by acquiring other companies, as is common in high tech, and they centralize accounts payable but retain the separate bank accounts. According to the 2019 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey, 83% of companies with over a billion dollars in revenue have more than five payment accounts, and 46% have more than
25 accounts.

No matter what the reason, making payments from multiple bank
accounts creates a lot of complexity in AP. It makes cash management difficult, increases the risk of errors and fraud, and
creates an ongoing nightmare when it comes to reconciliation.
Fortunately, new payments automation technology can help
address the challenges of making payments from multiple
accounts.

Multiplying by Four

Most companies are contending with four different payment
workflows—check, card, ACH and wire, or five if you’re doing
international payments. Basically, you can multiply the number of bank accounts by four or five, and that’s how many processes you
have to manage.

But at least those processes are pretty standard. A check is a
check; a card is a card; NACHA sets the standard for an ACH file;
and a wire is a form fill on a bank portal. With payments
automation technology, you can wrap all of those workflows
together in a single dashboard. Payment is intelligently routed
from each account by the most advantageous means—you no
longer have to care what type of payment the vendor accepts. It’s
all taken care of for you.

Exponentially More Convoluted

The big win though, is on the back end, when it comes time to true
up the payments leaving each account with the general ledger. The
dirty little secret, known only to accounts payable professionals, is
that there is no standard for a reconciliation file—or even a
requirement to send one.

Each bank and card provider can send it in a different format, with
different information, or not at all. That makes reconciling
payments data with the accounting or ERP system—or multiple
accounting or ERP systems—exponentially more convoluted. It’s no longer X number of payment types times Y number of bank
accounts. It’s a different procedure for almost every type of
payment and/or bank or payment provider.

That amount of complexity and manual work inevitably leads to a
higher error rate. And, it opens you up to more instances of fraud.
According to the AFP survey, 72% of organizations with $1 billion or more in revenues and more than 100 payment accounts
experienced attempted or actual payment fraud.

Since daily reconciliation is cited the top defense against fraud at
companies of all sizes, consistently receiving standardized, easy-to-
digest reconciliation reports would help mitigate the fraud risk
associated with multiple payment accounts.

Filling the Data Gaps

Now there’s an opportunity to partner with Fintech companies in
order to help with that transfer of data. Up until recently, the only
way to reconcile multiple accounts was by throwing a lot of people
at the problem, or by bringing in a shared services provider.
Fintech business payments providers are leveraging the cloud,
APIs and online supplier networks to fill the gaps in workflow
automation and data transfer that have been left by banks and
traditional financial services firms.

You can easily make payments—including international
payments—from multiple bank accounts, and push a standardized
reconciliation report back to each, all in one easy process. Some
payment platforms can even push card rebates back into the right
accounts.

This is all possible when your payment provider stores payment,
bank, and vendor data in one cloud platform, and can use
technology to automatically match all the data up, pour it into a
uniform report, and push it back out to the payee. That’s
impossible when you’re working directly with lots of different
banks and payment providers, because no one entity has visibility
into all of the data.

There are a lot of reasons why it makes sense for a company to
have multiple payment accounts, but nobody thinks much about
the pain it’s going to cause in accounts payable. It’s one of those
hidden back office problems banks and traditional financial service
providers have never been able to solve, so accounts payable
professionals have found a way to live with it. Nowadays though,
there are ways to live without it.

_______________________________________________

Mike Fortmann is the Vice President of Sales, Southwest Region at
Nvoicepay. He is an accomplished payment industry expert with more than five years experience in delivering scalable payment solutions.

EXECUTIVE GETAWAYS: CHICAGO

The forgotten gem of the Midwest. For those who have been to or are from Chicago, the Windy City holds a special place in their hearts. Chicagoans take great offense at “fly-over city” being applied to the Second City, which is smack-dab in the heart of America. If you are going there for business, do not fret: The heartland metropolis has a wealth to offer that will leave you wanting more, guaranteed.

Where do most executive getaway articles begin? You guessed it, where to lay your executive head. The Chicago Loop (coupled with the rest of downtown) is the second largest business district in the country. Only Midtown Manhattan tops it in terms of scale. Major corporations such as Chase Bank, Exelon, Aon Corp., United Airlines, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and Sidley Austin and Morton Salt are all headquartered in the Loop. So where will you likely be laying your head? The Loop.

By far one of the best business hotels in the Loop is the Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront. Located on the edge of Chicago’s Theatre District, the Wyndham features 357 rooms with all the amenities you could ask for at very reasonable rates despite its first-class status. Another solid choice in the Loop is the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park. Nearly double the size of the Wyndham in terms of rooms (687), this David Rockwell-designed hotel is a stunner aesthetically. If you want to splurge a bit, check out the Fairmont Gold Concierge Level, which includes a private lounge and reception area with sweeping views of Lake Michigan.

If a direct location in the Loop is not a priority and you want to make this business trip one to never forget, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago is your only destination. Located in the swanky Gold Coast neighborhood, and a short distance from the Loop and downtown, the hotel features a top-notch restaurant (Balsan), an indoor lap pool, a world-renowned spa and sleek rooms. There is a plethora of conference space and from an amenities perspective, there is not a single thing missing in this hotel. The Astoria has truly taken business travel to another level with this property.

Now that you’re settled in and presumably exhausted after a long day in meetings, workshops, etc., it’s time to experience that one-of-a-kind Chicago dining that everyone raves about. Narrowing down our suggestions to fit a tight piece such as this is challenging to say the least. With that said, no trip to Chicago is complete without a taste of their infamous deep-dish pizza. New York versus Chicago is in full swing here, and Pequod’s Pizza in Lincoln Park will give any New York pizzeria a serious run for their money. Deep doughy pizza, caramelized crust and an assortment of toppings at Pequod’s might leave you with some calories to burn that next day, but they are entirely worth it.

Taking you from pizza to one of the world’s finest dining establishments, Alinea is the place to take only your most highly regarded colleagues and clients. Oh, and make reservations months ahead of time as this three-Michelin-starred restaurant is always in hot demand. Dishes change based on the season, but the edible balloon and tabletop dessert are present year-round. Another excellent choice for special guests is Maple & Ash. This Gold Coast steakhouse has been churning out creative twists on old, steakhouse classics for years. The wine list is extensive, and you might even see some Chicago celebrities/sports stars as well.

If you’ve got a more casual night, a bit more upscale than pizza, perhaps with a colleague or someone you do not need to wine and dine, go to Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. A bit of a mouthful, but mouths are filled here with south of the border fare in a casual, festive setting. This is the type of place you are angry at when 11 p.m. rolls around and you’re in full swing but need to wake up for your flight at 6 a.m. Great food, fantastic atmosphere.

If you’re lucky, dining will not be the only thing occupying your free time. Perhaps a nightcap will be in order. Chicago is not only a foodie town but a boozy town. You’ll get a real taste of the speakeasy culture at The Violet Hour, a hip cocktail lounge without a sign, but with a line–always. Once inside, the wait is most definitely worth it. The Sportsman’s Club is another Chicago staple, more informal but interesting, especially in the summer when top chefs from around the city flock to the patio to host cookouts. The food is otherworldly, and $20 will fetch you a hefty plate and one drink.

Finally, what’s to see in this city? Most business trips will yield the equivalent of one full day (a couple half days) or two if you’re lucky. A must, must, must for sightseers is the Art Institute of Chicago. A world-class art museum—and literally one of the oldest in the U.S.—it boasts collections ranging from modern to quite ancient. Don’t be surprised when a Gauguin, Manet or Picasso await you. The iconic lion statue outside is also an obligatory spot for a selfie pic.

Our next recommendation is neighborhoods. As generic as it sounds, Chicago neighborhoods are impressive. You’ve got Chinatown, Greek Town, Little Italy and a range in between. Immigrants from everywhere, similar to New York and Los Angeles, came to Chicago in search of a better life. Their culture arrived with them and is on full display in the Windy City.

To wind it up, the aquarium! You can take in the Shedd Aquarium, located on Chicago’s Museum Campus, where a charming backdrop of the lake welcomes visitors to a dazzling display of penguins, whales, sharks, piranhas, stingrays, dolphins … the list is endless. One of the country’s premier aquariums, this is a great option for burning a morning or afternoon before a flight.

We hope this post has been fruitful, and most of all, entertaining for your next business trip to the wonderful, Windy City!