Drum roll

Cash Remains King…

Do you see yourself as a leader? Do you have or still have the courage to be a Risk Taker?

The economy is improving; Austin now has less than 6 percent unemployment. You are seeing your cash flow improve and you are taking a breath that maybe the worst is over. You say to your family, friends and employees, my revenue is improving, clients, customers, and prospects are reappearing. You are accumulating a pile of cash. My sense is for the next 12 to 18 months decisions you make this month and this coming quarter will be critical for small to mid size businesses that need or want to take themselves and their company to that next level.

Alan Beaulieu, ITR principal and Vistage staff economist, was our keynote speaker at our June All City at the Austin Convention Center. One of my many take-aways suggests if you need to borrow you probably are running into difficulties with your bank, yet if you don’t need to borrow you most likely are the bank’s preferred customer.

CEOs, presidents and business owners need to act and have courage in order to be rewarded with higher profits, increased sales and new customers. Think back when you were getting started, and the risks you were willing to take then. You had a vision, a purpose, a dream and your intended outcome over the years was to turn that dream into reality.

Looking around the corner into 2013 and beyond, there are three traits/disciplines that rank very high on my list and the list of my CEO members:

  • 1st you need to be your word. Say what you are going to do and do what you said you were going to do. Drive that belief to your direct reports and teams. Trust comes from predictability and when your direct reports, teams and employees see you are walking the talk, they will too.
  • Eliminate yellow
    Bob Prosen was in Austin this past April and told the room of C-level executives to get rid of the yellow in the Green, Yellow and Red ranking of projects and performance time lines. He left us with two questions and only two questions to ponder and implement:

  • If your direct report or your team is green – ask for everyone to share “…what did you do to become green?”
  • If your direct report or your team is red – ask “…when are you going to be green?”

  • You need a “snapshot” on your top indicators – (My recommendation is start with 6)
  • Rear View trailing 12 months – charts showing you where you have been, where you are and suggesting where you are going – examples sales/revenue, profit/editda, AR, booked or backorder business, leads from your website, conversion rate, etc.
  • “3 Rs” of business—Lead and manage everyone in doing the right things, and doing them right, at the right time. Doing 1st things 1st and 2nd things never.
  • Dashboard or Leading Indicators – charts that demonstrate the # of new customers, predictability in your sales pipeline, seeing connection or yield ratio will assist you in validating or verifying the need to spend that pile of cash and have the courage to expand.
  • Kraig Kramer, Vistage speaker, has a wealth of charts, graphs, tips and techniques that is mostly free for the taking on his website.
  • How will you know when the Time is right?
    Your peers, friends and spouse will say when you suggest you are considering spending that pile of cash “…are you insane?” Everyone knows or has read that interest rates are now below 4% and the lowest in our life time no matter how you slice that apple. 10 year Treasuries are yielding 1.6%. Buying new equipment, acquiring talent or expanding your sales and marketing departments are critical to the success of your enterprise and the cost for expansion has never been lower.

    Those that have the right indicators will “look around the corner” into 2013 and beyond and be a leader. The rest of you…think about it?

    Leaders by definition are people with courage.

    ———————————————————
    Ed Stillman is a retired 3M’er, in his 6th year as an Austin Vistage Chair and spends most of his time assisting his C-level members in becoming better leaders, making better decisions and growing their company’s profitability.

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