Who can you trust as a business adviser?

November 29, 2011

Businesses face many challenges over time; as a business owner you can enhance your vision and the performance of your business by seeking out advice from a business adviser – but how do you choose someone you can trust?

Who can you turn to when facing difficult situations like business turnaround, securing financing for a new project, working out an exit strategy for retirement, or how to increase net income for your business?

In our firm, we have a passion for helping business owners come up with creative solutions to their business questions and problems. During face-to-face meetings, we can ask the right, purposeful questions about what is going on with the business. Our agenda is geared toward one and three-year plans versus other CPAs who simply want talk about taxes, financial statements, compliance issues, and banal number tracking.

The major difference between us and other CPAs is that we have started and managed over twenty-six different businesses. With that kind of background and experience we have the wisdom and knowledge you can rely on and trust in an adviser. It is our firm belief this service is the most critical for your business to prosper.

That’s why on our website we stress that we are the new generation of CPAs. It doesn’t mean we’re just out of college – it means we have been around long enough and participated so much in real business to have the kind of broad, creative knowledge base necessary to take your business to the next level and hopefully beyond.

We want to meet face-to-face with you and ask questions like:

• What’s new with your business?

• What are the primary goals you are working to achieve?

• What concerns are you facing?

• Where do you want to be in two or three years?

• What are your biggest challenges?

(We’re in the Bay Area region of California – if you aren’t close enough for a face-to-face meeting we can set up an online meeting using Skype.)

In our meeting, we are going to dig deeper to get a sense of your bigger picture. We take our time with you and are not overly quick to offer solutions, because we don’t want to miss opportunities that could make a significant impact, the kind of impact that you will truly value.

By taking a more strategic approach with you we will get a better understanding of what is going on. This is going to allow us to offer workable solutions tailored specifically to your business and your goals. By using our experience and knowledge in business and finance, we provide you with the maximum value for your money. As a byproduct, we will earn your trust by providing service that has special meaning to you plus results that surpass what you could have done on your own.

With other CPAs, your attention (and their service) will remain focused on compliance issues. Sure, compliance based services are important because those compliance issues are something you have to deal with.

But what comes next?

Find a trusted advisor. How do you find one?

Take a look at a firm like ours. Yes, we are CPAs. But, if you take away all of the compliance related services, we would still have a firm with a valuable service to offer our clients. You figure that out by looking at the entire picture of who we are and where we’ve been. Our business experience, our experience in finances and loans – that is where you get an idea of whether or not we have something far beyond an ordinary CPA firm to offer.

Call us right now, today at (707) 524-8130 or (415) 353-5680 and let’s develop a great strategic plan for your business.

Don’t just plan … strategize

November 18, 2011

Our business card carries the tag line, “Strategic Strategizers”, as a reflection of our motto: “Don’t Just Plan, Strategize.”

You’ve got to plan strategically because, of the three levels of planning, strategic planning is most closely related to performance. This is true in life, not just in business.

In a major scientific study of more than 1000 small business owners, Orser found the presence of a strategic plan correlates directly with performance. In this study, Orser measured “performance” by changes in growth revenues of businesses. Moreover, Orser found the use of a written plan (especially a strategic plan) to be a major factor in the prospects of small business growth. (Orser, 2000)

Do you have a strategic plan … is it in writing?

The other two levels of planning–business planning and operational planning—are insufficient to ensure business longevity and prosperity. There are major differences between business planning (aka “a business plan”) and strategic planning. In particular, strategic planning is focused on the destination of the business–where is the business going?

Compare these two approaches to a person planning a trip. If you don’t know where you’re going, what good does it do to start making travel plans? What, are you going to create a plan to head off to … nowhere?

Another important thing about strategic planning is that, for it to be effective, it has to be formal. Formalized strategic planning is a written, long-range plan covering topics such as:

• Determining major outside interests focused on the organization
• Expectation of inside interest
• Information about past, current, and future performance
• Environmental analysis
• A determination of strengths and weakness
• Feedback

Honestly, I just don’t get why any business owner would fail to act when it comes to making a formal strategic plan. Not only that, I don’t get why any business owner serious about succeeding in their chosen field or industry would fail to get help from professional financial and business advisors in creating a formal strategic plan.

If you want to go to Italy, you go to an experienced travel agent who will help create a great travel itinerary so you’ll have the best trip possible. If your car is performing poorly, you go to a trained and experienced mechanic – someone who has worked on many cars successfully. If you want to make sure your body, teeth, or eyes are in good health, you get help from a trained medical professional.

The bottom line is this: If you don’t have a strategic plan, you don’t really know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there. Chances are, if you fail to get advice from an external source (financial and business advisors) with more experience and knowledge than you have, your strategic plan (if you do create one) will most likely be limited in scope and longevity. Whatever actions you then take without a great strategic plan guiding the way, your performance and effectiveness will be equally limited.

As a business owner, for peak performance and the greatest opportunities for success, you need a formal strategic plan. For the best strategic plan, go to a trained and experienced financial and business advisor.

We have more than thirty years experience in business and finance, we have started 26 businesses, we’ve even started a commercial bank that went public, and we have worked with literally thousands of businesses over the years. We even wrote, “The Loan Book”, a guide used by leading banks to train their own staff and used by businesses to get the funding they need.

Call us right now, today at (707) 524-8130 or (415) 353-5680 and let’s develop a great strategic plan for your business.

At the end of the day, what matters most?

November 4, 2011

Image Copyright (c) 2011 J. L. FleckensteinBenjamin Franklin said, “The use of money is all the advantage there is in having it.” Indeed, money is as valuable to you as it assists you in creating your ideal life. Money is not the end goal, it is merely something that helps you reach your real goals.

Over the years, I have discovered that to provide the best service, I have to find out from my clients a piece of information only they possess: what matters most to him or her. My job is to comfortably draw out of my clients what their goals are, and integrate those goals with my own expertise to help them get results.

The simplicity of it is, people have life goals they hope to have the financial resources to achieve. If all I do is ask you about your financial goals, the conversation falls into terminology you might not easily relate to. This would be similar to a travel agent asking you how many times you want to travel instead of asking you where you want to go.

I am committed to taking into account important life circumstances when giving financial advice. I personally believe this is the most relevant, helpful approach and is most valued by my clients. I think of the work I do, the advice I give, as holistic wealthcare.

To accomplish this, I find it is more helpful to ask good questions than it is to find answers to typical, rote financial questions. If I ask you the right questions, it will help you discover your own answers, solutions, and resources. In other words, asking the right questions leads to some great brainstorming and real “a-ha!” moments.

A perfect example of this is a home-bound elderly client of mine. She was at risk of running out of money if she continued gifting too much of it to her adult son. I asked her the right questions that led to a realistic assessment of her resources, needs, and preferences for care, comfort, and peace-of-mind.

Then I asked what she wished most to do for her son. She said she always wanted to help him. So, I asked what she felt would help him the most. She paused to consider, then realized what he really needed was a budget.

Moving from discovery to taking the right actions all I had to do was ask her what it would take to make that happen. She had the answers, I just had to help guide her through the right questions to get there.

Would you like to have a CPA and financial planner who really cares about your goals, listens attentively and knows how to ask the right, thought-provoking questions? Would you like some help in getting to the bottom of what matters most to you? Do you want to work with someone who has a broad range of financial and business expertise to help you best utilize your financial resources and achieve your goals?

If so, call us today at (707) 524-8130 or (415) 353-5680.