Leadership Tips for Today’s Small Business Owners

There is no shortage of advice on leadership. But the perception of an effective leader has evolved substantially in recent years, as has the advice. No longer is a great leader portrayed as the detached, authoritarian, ruler at the helm. As we’ve realized that business really is about relationships – both inside and outside our businesses – characteristics now ascribed to great leaders include empathy, transparency, emotionally intelligent, visionary, inspirational, mindful, humble, even compassionate.  

Simon Sinek’s TED talk, Start With Why, addressed this kinder, gentler – yet somehow stronger – leader. He’d examined the practices of leaders who’d achieved legendary success and concluded that, driven by values and convictions, these leaders each knew clearly WHY they were doing the work they did and were able to inspire others to understand and embrace that “why.”

This enlightened perception of engaged (and engaging) leaders is widely embraced. It flows from the top down and has a direct impact on a company’s financials. We’ve seen it time and again when working with business owners, and have compiled some of the best tips for being an effective leader in today’s business world.

Lay the Foundation

  • Know your “Why!” – Be clear on what your business is going to do and how.
  • Have a vision – it provides direction for your business and inspires both employees and customers; people buy into your inspirational vision and your values as much or more than your product. 
  • Cultivate a company culture based on your vision and core values.

Build a Great Team

  • Hire people who are a fit for the job, the team and your company culture.
  • Communicate proactively and effectively, which includes listening to your people. Be clear about your expectations and give honest, productive feedback.
  • Lead by example. Inspire your team by modeling the behavior you wish to see in them. 
  • Delegate! Leaders don’t limit themselves by hanging onto the wrong tasks.  
  • Be transparent. When mistakes are made, use them as a learning experience, which will encourage employees to acknowledge them but also removes the fear of failure.

Keep Growing

  • Take time for reflection and introspection. Being self-aware enables learning more about you and your motivation, and improves business and personal relationships.
  • Avoid the temptation to build silos as your company grows – it may cause your people to lose connection with the big picture and their colleagues.
  • Learn to be a better leader through reading, leadership forums, networking with and being challenged by other CEOs, or hiring a business coach.

Even with the evolution of its definition, the nuts and bolts of successful leadership are no less critical. You still need an astute business strategy, a plan for growth, and solid financials. That’s where The Minerva Group comes in.

We start by ensuring that you have clean, current financials, work with you to align your financial goals and business strategy, help you develop an achievable plan for growth, and even offer coaching services to help you stay on track. Start by taking our complimentary 360 Blueprint Quiz to get clear about where you are today. Then we partner with you to help you plan action steps to get to where you want to be, building a solid financial framework for success so you can do what you do best – lead and grow your company.  Take the 360 Blueprint Quiz today or contact us to get the conversation started.    

Great leadership has been summed up by Zig Ziglar – “You’ll get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”

Tap Into Your Leadership Energy to Supercharge Your Business Growth

Is it me?

This is the last question we want to ask ourselves when our business growth is stagnating. After all, you started your company with your vision and your dream. You nurtured it and brought it into existence against all odds, so why isn’t it growing like you know it has the potential to? 

Groundbreaking research into an individual’s core energy may help uncover a key to your business’ financial success as well as powerful instruction to determine your life potential. 

If your business isn’t growing the way you imagined or you can’t pinpoint why operations aren’t running smoothly, the answer may lie in your leadership energy. This is the energy you bring to your personal interactions and decision making. When a leader is able to harness and optimize their leadership energy they can motivate investors and inspire peak performance from their people.

The Energy Leadership IndexTM (ELI) assessment measures a person’s core energy makeup under both ideal and stressful circumstances.  Individuals rate themselves on beliefs, self-perceptions, emotional reaction tendencies, and behavior patterns to determine the “E-Factor” of a person’s energetic profile. By understanding your individual “energy/action” composition, you can purposefully shift your perspective to a more optimistic stance and also navigate yourself and your company to higher performance. 

Certified ELI facilitator, Lisa Isom of The Minerva Group, uses this tool in combination with their own Minerva 360 Blueprint™ to guide business leaders towards understanding and using their energy productively to accelerate growth. Lisa is also hoping to bring this topic to Denver business leaders at Denver Startup Week, September 16-20. Vote for her Founder Track program at https://www.denverstartupweek.org/panel-picker/5477-is-it-me-is-your-leadership-energy-plaguing-business-growth.

How to Use the Results from Your ELI

Armed with your own “energy/action” composition, leaders can understand how their own energy integrates into their experiences in seven aspects of consciousness:

  1. Apathy
  2. Anger
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Compassion
  5. Peace
  6. Joy
  7. Absolute Passion

Throughout the day, as you experience and respond to circumstances and events that transpire, your core energy shifts among these seven levels.  Becoming more aware of the energetic consequences of your thoughts, emotions, and actions, you learn to control your expression of energy in response to stressors.  This allows you to wield more influence over the course of your business and positively affect your ability to achieve your goals.

Leaders can utilize their unique energy/action makeup and harness this core energy to:

  • Improve workplace relationships
  • Increase and improve communication
  • Intensify teamwork
  • Raise productivity rises, and
  • Grow profits!

What Leaders Do Next

If you’re interested in taking your leadership skills to the next level and accelerate the growth of your company, it’s easy to get started. Take the Minerva 360 Blueprint Quiz at 360blueprint.info.

You’ll receive a personalized assessment, recommendations, and the opportunity for a complimentary follow-up phone call to dive into your results in even greater detail. To learn more visit The Minerva 360 Blueprint page or contact us.

Includes excerpts from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching paper by Lynn Waldorf, PhD, CPC

A 360-Degree Approach to Financial Spring Cleaning

Tax season is behind us! What was your experience? Did you have everything you needed at your fingertips or were you scrambling to pull documents and records together?

The process of filing your taxes likely brought to light issues that exist with your financial records, and more importantly, your strategies and practices. Now is a great time to invest in some financial spring cleaning. Start by asking yourself the following:

  • Were your high-level financial documents accurate and in balance for 2018?
  • What is your current state of cash flow and do you have a cash-flow forecast?
  • Do you have both short and long-term financial goals and a strategy to reach them?
  • Are your financial goals aligned with your company’s vision and mission?
  • Do you have Key Performance Indicators in place? If so, are they being monitored regularly and acted upon?

If your financials are lacking in any respect, many areas of your business can be negatively impacted including profitability and growth. Perhaps you need to do a 180 where your financials are concerned. If so, look at it from a 360-degree perspective.  

The Minerva 360 BlueprintTMwas created with the business owner’s comprehensive success as its objective. It’s all about keeping your business momentum going…and growing! It begins with a “discovery process” during which your company’s most urgent needs, as they relate to your overall financial picture, are identified. We help the owner gain a comprehensive understanding of their financial position, develop a clear vision for where and how the company can grow, and provide specific tools for addressing various financial elements.

We can take it a step farther by helping business owners understand how their leadership style affects what is working and not working in the business. We do this through Minerva’s Energy Leadership Index (ELI) which helps you tap into your goals and motivations, and then provides you with customized tools to guide you in your unique decision-making processes. We then deliver customized financial and leadership strategies and methods that are essential for taking your company to the next level. Our support continues in a variety of roles – from keeping your books clean and up to date, to developing and implementing a detailed “blueprint” for growth and acting as an accountability partner to help you achieve your vision.   

It’s easy to get started. Take the Minerva 360 BlueprintTM Quiz at www.360blueprint.info. You’ll receive a personalized assessment, recommendations, and the opportunity for a complimentary follow-up phone call to dive into your results in even greater detail. To learn more, visit http://www.theminervagrp.com/ or contact us.

Launching Your Business with Eyes Wide Open

Launching your own business can be a thrilling adventure, bringing your passions, talents and skill sets together with the vision of doing something great. One of the keys to building a successful business is looking at it from all angles and starting with a plan. A critical component of that plan is the numbers, and many new business owners would rather look at the exciting parts of entrepreneurship (freedom, ability to pursue their passion, making boat-loads of money for themselves and not someone else) instead of diving in and really knowing their numbers.

That’s where we come in. Here’s how The Minerva Group helped one solopreneur launch her dream business.

When we first met our client, Sue, she was working full time for a large tech company. To them she was just a number, and she went to work every day feeling unmotivated and underutilized.

Her passion was photography. On weekends she photographed weddings and loved the interaction with people and producing something that would be meaningful and lasting to them. Her dream was to do this full time, but she didn’t know where to start. The Minerva Group partnered with Sue to provide her with the tools and know-how to help her make that dream a reality.

First, we helped her get a clear picture of her current financial situation by looking at the books she had kept for her photography side-gig. This enabled us to:

  • project the income she needed to transition into her own business,
  • set expectations for the return on investment,
  • establish goals for building her savings, and
  • plan the timing.

Armed with real numbers, Sue could finally see clearly that she could make her dream happen.

Next, we looked at strategies to move Sue towards full time. These included attending bridal shows to meet wedding planners and make herself and her services known within the wedding industry. This networking provided sources of referrals from which she was able to branch out and build her clientele. We recommended a substantial increase in her prices, helped her identify unique venues for her work beyond the ones she had traditionally used, and helped her expand her offerings to clients by adding videography.

Within the space of two years – and with a lot of hard work – she moved into her business full time and has never looked back. From January through September the previous year to the same period over the current year, she experienced growth at a rate of 132%! The demand for Sue’s business has grown to the point that she now employs several additional photographers.

The Minerva Group helps business owners take a 360-degree look at their business, starting with the numbers and then building out a realistic strategy for growth. Do you have a passion for building a business? Take our online assessment, the Minerva 360 Blueprint® and get a clearer understanding of your own  picture so you can take the right actions towards growth.

Clean up Your Financials and Your Image

You likely started your business based on something you’re passionate about, something at which you excel, or both. But as all business owners know, there’s much more to a successful business than passion and talent. Financials are, of course, a major component. Another is how you and your business are perceived by clients and prospects.

Have you ever thought about how your financial practices may affect your credibility?

Owners of small businesses are often guilty of trying to do too much on their own. This may be an effort to keep costs down, or perhaps unrealistic expectations of being able to keep all the balls in the air with not enough arms to juggle them.

That was the situation when a small business owner hired The Minerva Group to handle his company’s accounting and help with management aspects of the business. The owner had developed a successful business that required significant travel. Clients typically reimbursed some of his travel expenses but he’d been unable to keep up with billing them for those expenses and was not even paying himself. It’s understandable – he didn’t start the business so that he could do the accounting. But with each passing month, his credibility suffered as disorder within the business became apparent to clients – some of whom began to lose confidence in the company.

This business owner knew the situation had to change and The Minerva Group helped him turn things around.

Financials were brought up to date and cash flow issues were addressed. Appropriate insurance was obtained for the business. Employee records were standardized. And the hefty sum of two years’ worth of reimbursable expenses was recovered entirely! Invoicing for these expenses is now done on a regular basis.

With this financial turn-around, the business took on a new image. Timely invoicing created not only better business practices but also the perception of greater professionalism. Our position as an objective buffer between the client and business owner served to turn the focus to the unique services he offers and portray him as the expert he is, rather than a jack-of-all-trades.

The bolstered image of professionalism not only increased the credibility of this business in the eyes of his multi-million dollar clients but created the impression of a larger company. And the changes in his business have freed up this savvy entrepreneur to invest his time and energy where it belongs – in pursuing his passions and talents and running his company.

If your financial records are deteriorating, your credibility may be suffering, too. Contact us to discuss cleaning up your financials, and perhaps your image as well!

Setting KPIs for growth

Establish Your Key Performance Indicators for 2019

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a metric used to evaluate and demonstrate whether, and how effectively, a business is achieving key business objectives over time. KPIs can be used at different levels to measure success in any area – from overarching, big picture goals to progress on specific departmental responsibilities or projects.

KPIs exist not only to provide metrics but to inspire action. They serve as tools – communication, accountability and navigational tools – that can direct your business towards positive change and help increase productivity. To do so, the KPIs you adopt must be relevant to your specific business and accurately reflect its performance.

A strategy for formulating and defining KPIs starts with basic questions.

  • What are our organizational objectives/desired outcomes?
  • Why do they matter?
  • How do we plan to achieve them?
  • How can we measure our progress?
  • Who is responsible for the outcome?
  • What is the time frame for achieving the objective?
  • How can/do we influence the outcome?
  • What are the indicators that we’ve achieved our objective?
  • How often will our progress be reviewed?
  • With whom should the resulting information be shared?

A KPI should be specific in defining the objective it addresses. It should clearly state how you will measure performance, and the information it returns should be succinct. Implementation of KPIs is an iterative and dynamic process that includes input and feedback from your leadership team and key employees. As facts unfold, you’ll gain greater insight into which business processes need to be measured and can adjust the types of KPIs you need accordingly. Over time, you’ll be able to tweak the particulars of your KPIs and refine how they are measured so that the information they return is of optimal value in guiding change.

Although every industry needs KPIs specific to their objectives and activities, there are KPIs that apply across the board. Every business needs performance metrics for:

  • Cash flow
  • Gross profit margin
  • Revenue increase
  • Inventory turns
  • A/R average days to pay
  • Budget variance
  • Overall productivity of the company

Businesses must monitor the big picture in the midst of attending to all of the details. KPIs assist with both. They can reveal the need for long-term change while providing information that will assist the owner and management team in making quicker and more accurate short-term decisions.

Identifying and formulating KPIs specific to your business, then interpreting and implementing the resultant information can be a time-consuming and seemingly daunting task. The Minerva Group uses our decades of experience in both accounting and business management to help business owners create KPIs that are in line with their growth goals. We’d be honored to partner with you develop your KPIs for 2019 and make it your most prosperous year so far.

Avoiding the Financial Pitfalls of a Startup

Startups are exciting, and the work is fast-paced! For good reason, everything you do is likely focused on what you know and do best – and not always on your finances. Many entrepreneurs are experts at the products or services they are offering, but need some help when it comes to running a successful business.

It’s easy for the financial component of your business to get away from you quickly and it’s often why new businesses fail. Since funds are not there to hire a staff member dedicated to managing the finances, or there’s a “we’ll get to that later” mentality, things can fall by the wayside – fast.

Here are some common financial and accounting issues new companies face:

  • Bookkeeping has not been done consistently, sometimes not at all.
  • Income taxes have not been paid on time, even after two or three years in business.
  • Payroll taxes have not been paid.
  • Appropriate payroll tax forms have not been obtained from employees or contractors.
  • Expense, credit card and loan record keeping is incomplete.
  • Appropriate bank accounts are not set up.
  • Bank and credit card statements may not be reconciled regularly.
  • Personal and business finances are intermingled.

For some industries, like those in construction for example, there are additional issues that are common including how to correctly differentiate between contractors and employees, job costing issues, and handling payment, record keeping, and tax reporting accordingly.

Perhaps you see your own business in one of these scenarios and here’s what we can do to help:

  • You haven’t been maintaining your books. You have multiple spreadsheets to manage income and expenses or your Quickbooks hasn’t been updated in a long time; bank account and credit cards haven’t been reconciled, loan balances are off, you have several piles of receipts and you just don’t know where to start. We’ll dig in and sort through whatever records you do have and set up or update QuickBooks. We’ll reconcile old bank and credit card statements, determine loan balances, and give you a clean and manageable bookkeeping system.
  • Your income and payroll taxes are lagging. The penalties and fees are starting to add up because you didn’t know which reports needed to be filed and when payments were due. The State and the IRS are sending you notices that seem very threatening, but they’re not very clear about what they want you to do. Do you just pay the amount on the notice or could you owe less because they need a report first? We’ve brought income and payroll taxes up to date even when years behind, ensuring that correct forms are on file, and working with the IRS to abate some of the penalties that had been incurred.
  • Your business and personal finances are intermingled. This situation happens often with startups, and it can be a challenge to set up bank accounts appropriate to the business so personal and business finances remain separate. We’ve helped companies get their business and personal accounts differentiated so your reporting is seamless.

The Minerva Group has over 25 years’ experience dealing with challenges like these. Just as important, we understand how overwhelming it can feel to realize your finances have gotten out of control. Your financial success is our business, and we are ready to help you tackle your toughest accounting obstacles so you can focus on growth! Give us a call or contact us to learn how we can help you.

Get Clear About Your Business Growth with The Minerva 360 Blueprint™

We’re not your average accountants.

You probably had that same thought when you first heard our company name, The Minerva Group. Back in 2011, we set out to build a company that would serve business owners in the places they were most vulnerable – their financials. We did so by creating a level of trust that only comes from responsive service, attention to detail, and timely, accurate information.

This is what we’ve done for the last 7 years, and as our business continues to grow, we continue to expand our service offerings to best meet the needs of our clients.

Who are our clients? Small to mid-size business owners who live and breathe their businesses. These are the passionate people who have the best ideas, run with them, and want to keep growing. These are also the people who simply don’t have time to review their books, prepare their taxes, and understand their financials.

We understand this conundrum and have asked our clients what else we can do to support them in their growth efforts.

And thus, the Minerva 360 Blueprint™ was born!

The Minerva 360 Blueprint is all about keeping your business momentum going . . . and growing! It’s a fast-track program designed to help business owners gain a comprehensive understanding of their financial position and its implications for growth. Specific tools for improving profitability are built in, as are tools to help you:

  • Say yes to the most profitable opportunities
  • Identify financial gaps and uncover areas to grow
  • Take a deep dive into what’s working and what’s not
  • Optimize your processes
  • Make more informed decisions about your business
  • Understand how your leadership style effects your entire business

The Minerva 360 Blueprint is designed for companies with revenues of $1M to $10M and begins with “discovery process” where we identify your company’s most urgent needs as it relates to your overall financial picture. From there, we help the owner develop a clear vision for where and how the company can grow, and pinpoint which areas may need some work.

We do this by performing an in-depth financial assessment of the health of your company, using your past financials as our guide.

From that information, we’ll develop the 360-degree overview, including:

  • Comprehensive review of financial statements
  • Written analysis of gaps and opportunities in financials
  • Written summary of key items to be addressed
  • Initial tools enabling the owner to take immediate action

And, true to form, we take it a step further.

Part of the 360 Blueprint includes Minerva’s Energy Leadership Index (ELI) certification. This index sets us apart by equipping us with the ability to take a holistic look at the business and its owner in ways that help to better understand your goals and motivation. It provides unique tools to assess leadership capabilities, perceptions and attitudes, to implement changes quickly, help owners become more efficient and effective decision makers, and map out Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to achieve more rapid growth.

Upon the completion of the 360 Blueprint, we continue to help in a variety of roles – from keeping your books clean and up to date, to developing and implementing a detailed, strategic Blueprint for growth, and helping you achieve your vision by acting as an accountability partner.

The Minerva 360 Blueprint was created with the business owner’s comprehensive success as its objective. It provides business owners with one-on-one support – focused on your business, your financial picture, and your growth objectives. You’ll also get customized financial and leadership tools that are essential for taking your company to the next level.

To get started take the Minerva 360 Blueprint Quiz. We’ll email you a personalized assessment and recommendations and offer a complimentary follow-up phone call during which we will dive into your results in even greater detail. Click here to set up your call. Regardless of your next steps, taking the quiz can provide you with valuable insights about you and your business. Take the short quiz now!

About The Minerva Group

Our team of bookkeepers, QuickBooks experts, and Accountants make sure your books and taxes are accurate and up to date. Even if you think your books are in disrepair, give us the challenge. We are experts at getting them in tip-top shape.

But we don’t stop there, because our passion is supporting business stability and growth. Beyond general accounting services, we work with growing companies to help them get to the next level. We do this by partnering with business owners in a one-to-one, advisory setting – helping them make better strategic decisions by using financial statements as the guide.