Mark Gandy

Providing CFO services in Missouri, Kansas and the surrounding states

Home

About Mark

Mark Gandy

Columbia, MO CFO

25 Years of Experience

Direct Contact

mgandy@b2bcfo.com

(660) 888-0840

Universities:

Truman State University

Certificates & Licenses:

CPA

Organizations:

FENG (Financial Executives Networking Group)

Missouri Society of CPAs

American Institute of CPAs

Contact Mark Gandy and receive a free Discovery Analysis™

  • A confidential meeting with the business owner(s), then interview company staff.
  • Look at the company’s financial information and computer systems.
  • Benchmark financial information against industry averages.
  • Create a confidential report of our findings in The Strategy Gameplan™








Mark’s Bio

Lou Gehrig said he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth during his farewell speech in front of Yankees fans. Well, I guess that makes me the second luckiest man on the face of the earth. That’s because I’ve enjoyed serving many business owners in a business-to-business CFO or controllership capacity since 2001.

My current CFO portfolio spans many industries: retail, professional services, software development, fast-growing e-commerce, manufacturing, publishing, restaurants, agri-businesses, and several others.

Over the years, I’ve raised equity capital for my clients, bought and sold businesses, re-engineered and streamlined poorly-managed accounting and finance departments, closed on many loan requests, and managed numerous IT projects. For larger businesses upwards to $200 million in revenues, I’ve successfully built complex, driver-based financial models using the top software applications available for the mid-market.

Before becoming a CFO free agent to scores of outstanding businesses in mid-Missouri and across the country, I obtained my CPA certification while working for KPMG Peat Marwick. Afterwards, I worked for the greatest family-owned business in the Show-Me state where I worked in numerous senior financial management capacities. I have also served as a CFO for several smaller family-owned businesses.

Every business needs a purpose and a mission. Mine is my wife and three kids. Debbie, my best friend, has been my wife for 25-plus years. Brock just graduated from Harding University and will be following in my footsteps as he embarks on a career in public accounting with a top-ten firm. Emily is a freshman at Harding University, and my little ‘bubba’, Drew, still has two years of high school remaining at Heritage Academy.

Life is good. How about yours? As a new friend would ask, “Are you a slave to your business, or is your business a slave to you?”

Contact Mark (660) 888-0840

 

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

Input this code: captcha

Recent Blog Posts

Dec 9Mark Gandy

Employees, $250 Million, Pujols, and having a Plan B

Dec 9Mark Gandy

As a lifelong-Cardinals fan, I was pleased and impressed with the team ownership in allowing the mighty Albert Pujols to walk away to greener pastures. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports the team offered him 10 years and more than $200 million. I thought that was way too much, a stretch. His body is already wearing down, and the second half that $250 million contract will be a burden for his new team, the Angels.

Dec 6Mark Gandy

My Favorite CEO Trait – Humility

Dec 6Mark Gandy

When I got home tonight, there were multiple e-mail messages in my inbox from various CEO’s I serve.  But one quickly grabbed my attention and received first priority. The message came from a man I admire and have grown to appreciate each day I’m around him.  This man is successful, is mission and goals oriented, and just gets things done.  But he’s also humble. And here’s why.  He sent a survey to his leadership team today where he asked two

Dec 5Mark Gandy

What is the Performance Prism?

Dec 5Mark Gandy

The Balanced Scorecard. McKensie’s 7S Framework. The BCG Matrix. Porter’s Five Forces. The Performance Prism.  Say what?  Because this one is not a household name, let’s summarize what it is. In short, the Performance Prism is a measurement tool built around four key areas of the business: stakeholders, strategies, processes, capabilities.  Below is an image of this framework. The framework should answer five key questions in the measurement design process. Stakeholder Satisfaction – who are the key stakeholders and what

Dec 4Mark Gandy

Is Your Business Like Rock or Classical Music?

Dec 4Mark Gandy

Last week, the little munchkins re-watched the newest Star Trek flick that came out a year or two ago.  I ultimately viewed it again, and for whatever reason, I enjoyed it the second time around. During the special features, the producer J.J. Abrams was comparing Star Trek and Star Wars.  He definitely wanted to grab younger audiences for the new Star Trek movie, the demographic that generally watched Star Wars. He noted that Star Wars was like rock music, whereas

Dec 3Mark Gandy

Mizzou, Pinkel, and Great Leadership

Dec 3Mark Gandy

Last weekend, I was listening to the MU football game against Kansas.  It was bad, really bad for the good guys.  MU couldn’t do anything right.  Three interceptions in the first half.  One paper stated the MU quarterback wanted the offensive coordinator to quit calling passing plays (talk about a lack of confidence). But here’s a great quote, a great story. Leave it to the MU coach to say the right thing at the right time to a key player:

Nov 24Mark Gandy

Columbia’s Turkey Trax 5k is a Success

Nov 24Mark Gandy

1,026 participated in Columbia’s (Missouri) 5k Turkey Trax, about three times the entrants from a year earlier.

Nov 21Mark Gandy

Do you have a memorable marketing message?

Nov 21Mark Gandy

Is your marketing message short, to the point, and drive home your company’s solution at the same time? Remember, customers are buying solutions, not just features. And you need a message that grabs them as they are being bombarded with marketing messages (probably a thousand a day) daily.

Nov 19Mark Gandy

RKV Technologies, MU Football, and a Great CEO

Nov 19Mark Gandy

A world of thanks to Bob and Kathy Myers and the leadership team that hosted RKV Day at MU this year.

Nov 16Mark Gandy

5 Questions That Require an Answer

Nov 16Mark Gandy

But Drucker has a way of taking the complex and making appear simple. Here is how he would have you start deciding what to do. He would want you to answer these five simple questions

Nov 10Mark Gandy

For Employees Only: Quit Texting on the Job

Nov 10Mark Gandy

Personally, I think people that text throughout the day are addicted to texting.

Nov 2Mark Gandy

One Lesson to Learn from the BofA Pricing Fiasco

Nov 2Mark Gandy

Bank of America has the resources to know how to roll out a new initiative. Right? Didn’t they know there would be this sort of backlash? But here’s the big question. Why didn’t they just roll this out in a test market first? Analyze the results, then abandon or move forward?

Oct 18Mark Gandy

A Suggested Feature for Preferred Customers

Oct 18Mark Gandy

So when I check out, they give me a receipt. I DON’T want a receipt. E-mail it to me. E-mail it right after the sale directly from the POS. That way, I don’t have to scan it and archive it which are extra steps. This is one reason I love shopping online – I get my receipt electronically.

Sep 22Mark Gandy

Baseball, The Beer Man, and Wallet Share

Sep 22Mark Gandy

During today’s trip at the ballpark I was amused to see that the beer man now understands the concept of wallet share. As you know, wallet share is a key strategy for gaining more revenue from customers by selling other products to those same customers.

Sep 12Mark Gandy

Are Your Employees Bored? Then Try This

Sep 12Mark Gandy

Every company has this problem — keeping staff in the game. Surfing the net.  Texting.  Wasting time.  These are merely symptoms of an underlying problem.  The problem may not be the employees.  It may be the work. Helping a company add $10 million to the top line–that’s cool.  Or saving a client thousands in interest each year–another neat feeling.  Or finding cash savings, or providing insights on marketing weaknesses–again, fun stuff. But what I really love is ‘bringing it’ on

Sep 6Mark Gandy

What is a CBO?

Sep 6Mark Gandy

First, let’s define. Chief Brand Officer (CBO). Earlier, I received a message from a CBO from a large training and consulting firm and for the first time, I noticed the person’s title–CBO. So I checked it out.  According to the Corporate Eye blog, the CBO is the following: Innovator Protector and Visionary Motivator Partner, Mediator, and Negotiator In simple terms, they are the person that champions the brand and making sure the company is following through on its brand promise.

Sep 5Mark Gandy

How I Will Honor 9/11 Victims and Heroes

Sep 5Mark Gandy

I’m just a normal guy in a small town living in the middle of nowhere.  I’m also just a one-talent man with ten-talent dreams.  So when I think about what I can do on our nation’s historic anniversary of the most cataclysmic event we’ve ever encountered on American soil, I feel overwhelmed.  What can I possibly do?  Nothing I can do will change the world. On September 11, 2011, I think of the blood that was shed for senseless reasons.  Way too much.  And for

Sep 4Mark Gandy

Labor Day, Grills, and Your Business

Sep 4Mark Gandy

Most people in my neck of the woods will be grilling on Labor Day (including the ones who tailgated on Saturday before their favorite college teams started their seasons). And here in Missouri, I think I’ve seen every grill imaginable.  And like a typical small-town CFO, every activity has a business connection.  Because there are so many types of grills, each model reminds me of a business.  Accordingly, which grill below most resembles your business? 

Sep 3Mark Gandy

I Thought Khan Academy Was Just for the Three R’s

Sep 3Mark Gandy

A while back, one of the most gifted CFO’s I’ve ever met asked me a question that floored me.  He told me the investors of a client only wanted to see the financials on cash basis.  Accrual was to complicated for them.  He wanted to know what I thought? Idiotic.  No, I’m not apologizing.  Own a mom-and-pop lemonade stand on the corner?  Your reporting needs to be accrual-based or your numbers will never make sense. So for all those intelligent

Sep 2Mark Gandy

The Real Impact of Price Reductions

Sep 2Mark Gandy

Some of you have no choice but to reduce prices in this economy. But make sure you count the cost before cutting. Below is a simple matrix showing what happens when you cut your prices based on your composite gross margin. For example, let’s say your typical company-wide gross margin is 25% and you cut prices by 6%. To maintain your same bottom line, you need to increase your sales by 32% to keep pace. As I was compiling the

Sep 1Mark Gandy

Hate Getting Mail? Get it in Email

Sep 1Mark Gandy

I started the online banking thing back in the 90s.  Awesome.  Since then, I’ve despised paper checks.  After that I became disenchanted with (snail) mail. Finally, I’m doing something about it.  I’m finally looseing the the purse strings for my Earth Class Mail (TM) account.  I’ll start with bills first.  That means all bills with hit my e-mail as soon as the service can scan and route the bill electronically.  I can store it if I choose and then follow-up with an

Aug 31Mark Gandy

Here's a Way to Cut Legal Costs – LPO

Aug 31Mark Gandy

LPO is legal process outsourcing.  I had never heard of this till I was skimming the book The End of Lawyers by Richard Susskind. According to Susskind, an international mining group started using outsourcers for a portion of its legal work including contract review, drafting, legal research, and document review.  Susskind adds that LPO is already a $400 million-plus annual business and only accounts for .1% of the total legal services industry.  So growth is inevitable. You may not have

Aug 29Mark Gandy

What Picture Describes Your Business?

Aug 29Mark Gandy

One of my favorite magazines to peruse is Internet Retailer. I had to do a quick double take when I got to an add by Dymo Endicia which is shown below.  The picture has a question.  “What happens when your business starts to grow?”  And then the picture is below that question. Brilliant. Great ad content. And that got me to thinking.  What picture best describes your business?  iPad?  Turkey?  NFL Quarterback?  Manure? Sony Walkman? Pacific Ocean? Even if you are a

Aug 25Mark Gandy

New Customers – Trust but Verify

Aug 25Mark Gandy

When dealing with your sales team, you know that every (new) customer is a good one and will never be late with payments.  Right? I find that when working with new clients, the credit approval process is either lax or that processes are not consistently applied. New customer approval is not a daunting process.  It’s actually simple with just a handful of steps as shown at right. The starting point is in the sales department.  Sales will provide the prospect

Aug 24Mark Gandy

Lessons Learned from Julie & Julia

Aug 24Mark Gandy

Movies. I prefer action.  Lots of it.  Gettysburg, The Bourne Series, MI 2 and 3, Crimson Tide, and many others. Intense Drama.  Yep, love that stuff too.  You know, the kind where you feel like one big muscle spasm when you leave the theatre. Chick flicks, touchy-feely relationship movies (my made-up term), light-hearted comedies … can’t stand ‘em.  Julie & Julia, I’m not sure where that movie falls into my Mark Gandy thumbs-down movie genre. But somehow, I managed to

Aug 23Mark Gandy

Are you including customers in your sales training?

Aug 23Mark Gandy

I enjoyed reading an article over at InfoBarrel so much, I just had to follow-up with the writer, Mark Stephenson, who is a consultant, writer, and entrepreneur based in Tampa, Florida. Mark wrote about developing a great sales team.  He had three salient points, but my favorite was including customers in the sales training process.  After reading the article, I caught up with Mark through e-mail for a couple follow-up questions. Question: What are three specific ways your current customers could

Aug 22Mark Gandy

What is FP&A?

Aug 22Mark Gandy

Financial planning and analysis. While the financial controller typically looks backward, the FP&A practitioner looks forward (and sideways, diagonally, upward, downward, three dimensionally, and so on). Who does FP&A in a small company? Believe it or not, it’s typically the business owner.  Even degreed accountants are typically weak with this skill as they tend to focus on historic transactions.  Additionally, small businesses cannot afford a full-time analyst to do this work.  So that means the owner is the FP&A guy

Aug 21Mark Gandy

Creativity at its Best

Aug 21Mark Gandy

Little things.  It’s the little things in business that really impress me. On a recent trip to Little Rock, I was surprised to find the following waterfall seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Follow along and look at what I found.       Impressive. Now that’s creativity … in the back of a parking lot behind Buffalo Wild Wings near Little Rock, Arkansas.

Aug 20Mark Gandy

Are Company Retreats Just for the Bigs?

Aug 20Mark Gandy

One of my favorite CFO’s, Grant Brisacher of San Diego, recently shared some photos of a company retreat that his client asked him to attend. When I think of big company retreats, I think of paint ball, strategy sessions, boot camp training, and various sorts of bonding time. But what about small companies?  Should they have such annual events?  According to Grant, “Absolutely.” “I think it’s a benefit regardless of size,” says Brisacher.  I think a company gains by having

Aug 19Mark Gandy

Is QuikTrip a Purple Cow?

Aug 19Mark Gandy

Most of us know the Purple Cow concept by now.  Stands out.  Different.  Unique.  Wow!! Once again, I stopped at my favorite c-store the other night after a Royals game.  I was asking my friend J.B. what makes them different (as he likes the company too). J.B. thought training was the key.  He nailed it. I asked the guy at the counter how long they spend in training after being hired.  He said one week.  He added some other helpful nuggets–his

Aug 18Mark Gandy

Are You a 4G CEO?

Aug 18Mark Gandy

Last night, my friend and client, J.B. Waggoner pointed out Sprint’s CEO, Dan Hesse, at the Royals game we attended with Commerce Bank.  He was seated just to our left. J.B. went on to explain how he enjoyed an interview between Hesse and Charlie Rose a couple years back.  The topic among others was 4G. When I got home, I quickly did a search and found the interview on YouTube.  I was struck by Hesse’s eloquence.  In short: 1. He was able

Aug 17Mark Gandy

E-mail Basics Revisited

Aug 17Mark Gandy

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes receive some very bad e-mails from people I know. If the HBR can write about this stuff, well, then so can I. Here’s my short list: 1. How often do you send the message to the wrong Bill, or to the wrong Ed?  Embarrassing, isn’t it?  Try this.  Leave the TO blank, and before you send, then include the names in the TO line.  You’ll be less likely to send the message

Aug 16Mark Gandy

Do Your Metrics and Key Numbers Move Hearts?

Aug 16Mark Gandy

Show me some numbers that move the hearts of men and women, and I’ll show you the passion of those same people that move the world. Last night, my heart was broken when I heard that the waiting list for families to stay at the Ronald McDonald House (Columbia, Missouri) was 18.  I hear the (updated) number monthly, but for some reason, it lingered inside.  Odd, I’m the accountant with no emotions or feelings–just boring logic. Eighteen.  That stinks.  It’s eighteen

Aug 15Mark Gandy

Business Plan on a Napkin

Aug 15Mark Gandy

I love hanging out with business people that share business ideas.  When I’m at such gatherings (typically a Friday lunch with other CEO’s), I generally do lots of listening and take notes. At least weekly, I hear one business idea.  So I start throwing out questions faster than Brett Farve and Tom Brady can drill bullets to their favorite receivers.  Sometimes the responses are good, and most times, not so good. For the first time ever (and you saw it here first),

Aug 14Mark Gandy

Don't Forget this HR Audit Step

Aug 14Mark Gandy

I was recently reviewing a client’s health care bill and comparing it to a recent payroll register.  In one case, the employee-paid portion for health care benefits was not being deducted for at least one year. We’ll skip the awesome solution I provided, but I will share what needs to be done in this case moving forward and in your business too: 1. Review and update your benefits policy at least once a year.  Put the review date on your

Aug 13Mark Gandy

Does Your Business Have a Nice Touch?

Aug 13Mark Gandy

Don’t you love it when a business provides  you something that was totally unexpected?  Like, “Wow, that’s really cool.” It seems like the best business owners that focus on the customer and have plenty of creativity do this the very best. A couple weeks ago, my son and I spent the evening at a Cardinals ballgame.  Since we only sat about 10 rows back behind the Cardinals dugout, my son brought his glove–fat chance of catching a foul ball (I’ve been

Aug 12Mark Gandy

Principles of Successful Business

Aug 12Mark Gandy

One of my favorite books in my library is Lines of a Layman by J.C. Penney.  The book is packed with years of wisdom from this Missouri businessman. Here was his take on a successful business: History proves that the greatest men and kingdoms have been the humblest, that nothing succeeds like honesty, that there is no substitute for labor, that patience builds and impatience wrecks, and that charity has sweet fruits.  J.C. Penney in Lines of a Layman

Aug 11Mark Gandy

What Does a Picture of Determination Look Like?

Aug 11Mark Gandy

A couple nights ago, I did my plyometrics from P90X.  Yeah, call me a fool.  It’s hard, but it’s supposed to be. But here’s how I get through plyometrics each week.  The guy just left of Tony (as I’m facing him on the screen) has just one leg.  Trust me on this one, just one leg.  The other is a prosthetic.  So I no longer complain.  It’s okay to barf, just not complain.  Eric is the man’s name.  He’s even

Aug 10Mark Gandy

Seth Godin, Banks, and Loans

Aug 10Mark Gandy

You are reading Seth Godin daily, right?  You should be. I would enjoy quoting Seth weekly, but I can’t do that.  But below is my favorite quote of his regarding banks and loans. Banks aren’t in the business of taking risk. Which means that they make boring loans to boring companies for boring purposes. They do everything they can to be riskless. Which means you need to guarantee the loan with your house or with assets worth far more than

Aug 9Mark Gandy

All it Takes is a Good Idea

Aug 9Mark Gandy

I love the game of business, but what I appreciate the most is the incredible creativity which makes it all happen. I was thinking about this when I was filling up my F150 which seems like it takes a week to do.  Cool … on top of the fuel dispenser was a monitor displaying ads and running news bites from a local TV station.  I was glued to the monitor.  So were all the other customers.  You would have thought

Aug 8Mark Gandy

Which Rabbit are You?

Aug 8Mark Gandy

If only I had a buck for every rabbit I see on my mini farm (mainly grass, weeds, and woods). And speaking of rabbits, check out the pictures below.  Which picture most closely describes your business? Picture 1: Fast, on a mission, confident, on-purpose, speed, agility, grace, freedom, growth, strategic. Picture 2: Fear, reactionary, running away, letting guard down, enslaved, the hunted. Picture 3: Caught, dead, lost, defeated. So which picture describes your business?  

Aug 7Mark Gandy

Captain America – The Best Scene

Aug 7Mark Gandy

Loyalty. Duty. Respect. Selfless Service. Honor. Integrity. Personal Courage. These are values I wish every company embraced.  The list above happens to come from the United States Army based on the word leadership. And every word above describes my favorite scene in Captain America where scrawny Steve Rogers falls on a grenade.  What if every employee in every business had the heart of this fictional movie character?

Aug 6Mark Gandy

Kia Kaha

Aug 6Mark Gandy

404 wins. 10 loses. 19 USA Rugby national championships in 26 years. Not bad.  Those are the numbers put up by Larry Gelwix (at right), coach of the Highland Rugby team. My wife and I watched the 2008 movie Forever Strong tonight, and I enjoyed the coach’s playbook in the special features. My favorite playbook item was the difference between getting beat and losing.  Business is hard and we probably lose more than we win.  That’s life.  That’s business.  But

Aug 5Mark Gandy

A Simple Tool for Tracking Vehicles

Aug 5Mark Gandy

When I started working with with construction companies, I was flooded with requests regarding vehicles (or so it seemed).  I needed vehicle information for insurance purposes, property taxes, banking requests, for preventive maintenance requirements, and the list goes on and on. So a few years ago, I set up a stupidly simple tracking device in Excel.  Most small to mid-sized businesses do not have a fixed asset system (FAS) in-house.  My favorite FAS has a price tag of just over $3,000 not

Aug 4Mark Gandy

Andon Boards for all Businesses

Aug 4Mark Gandy

I spent the day working on a scorecard system for one of my favorite clients.  While I was there, the President was telling me about his recent tour of the GM plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  That particular plant builds corvettes. My client said I would have appreciated a board showing the build for the day (about 80). The electronic board also displayed whether the plant was on pace to meet that requirement. I did some quick research and learned that my client

Aug 3Mark Gandy

Steve Jobs and CEO Succession Planning

Aug 3Mark Gandy

The WSJ recently reported that Apple’s Board is looking at succession options for their current CEO, Steve Jobs. CEO succession is equally important in small to mid-sized businesses. This is especially true for family-owned businesses wishing to keep the enterprise for the next generation. Finding that next person to step in can be problematic for numerous reasons. Jane Johnson, one of my favorite colleagues, is one of the foremost thought leaders in the country when it comes to exit planning

Aug 2Mark Gandy

What's the best way to commission sales reps?

Aug 2Mark Gandy

My vote is still the same … commissions should be based on gross margins, not gross sales dollars. Below are interesting poll results (while not scientific) from an article by Geoffrey James from his 2010 article called Sales Commissions: Revenue-based or Profit-based?  I was actually surprised by the results.  I’d be curious to know who did most of the voting, CEO’s or sales reps?

Jul 31Mark Gandy

Do You Have Plenty of Margin?

Jul 31Mark Gandy

No, I’m not talking about gross margin, net operating margin or net margin. Instead, I’m talking about MARGIN, as in the book by Dr. Richard Swenson.  I call MARGIN the best non-business book ever written that every overburdened, overworked, and overstressed executive should read. Dr. Swenson calls MARGIN the opposite of overload.  My favorite description of MARGIN is the formula he offers below: Power – Load = Margin Where Power is made up of factors like skills, time, emotional strength, physical

Jul 29Mark Gandy

Self-generating Metrics

Jul 29Mark Gandy

I recently responded to a question on another CFO blog about the metrics for professional services firms.  Specifically, the person asking the question wanted to know the number of billing personnel to overall headcount should be. Personally, I think the answer is simple.  The key is to look inward, not outward.  Let me explain. Let’s work backwards.  Small professional services firms should easily be able to command gross margins from 25 to 35 percent.  And net operation margins (NOI) should be

Jul 28Mark Gandy

When Gary Harpst Speaks, I Listen

Jul 28Mark Gandy

Gary Harpst is one of the truly great guys in the accounting industry.  He was one of the founders of Solomon Software and is the author of the book Six Disciplines (one I’ve read multiple times). Gary was recently interviewed by Dan Bobinski over at Management-Issues.  Gary was asked about the advice he would give to mid-sized businesses in this economy.  Some of his comments included: 1. Get costs in line with revenues, 2. Make sure the strategy fits the current

Jul 27Mark Gandy

Do Huge Sales Gains Equal Huge Increases in Earnings?

Jul 27Mark Gandy

I’m sure any CEO would love a 44% increase sales over the prior year.  Who wouldn’t? But would you expect your earnings to drop $114 million or 23% on this 44% sales increase?  That’s exactly what happened to Amazon for the six months ending June 30 according to Business Wire.  While sales were soaring 44% higher, operating expenses were growing faster at 60%. Yes, when sales go up, the following happens: 1. Margins may drop as price points may be

Jul 26Mark Gandy

Keys to Building that Great Management Team

Jul 26Mark Gandy

One of the most critical jobs for any CEO is to build the management team.  It’s a never ending process.  Need some help on how to do this?  Consider the framework developed by Gallup called the Four Keys to Great Management.  Their conceptual model for great management was published in 1999, but is still a bedrock in their management training programs.  

Jul 25Mark Gandy

Employees, Being Number 2 Isn't That Bad

Jul 25Mark Gandy

There can only be one CEO, one CFO, one CIO, and so on. And the Steve Williams story reminds me how critical it is to have a strong team surrounding the CEO. Without those people, the CEO is going to be average at best.

Jul 24Mark Gandy

The National Debt Ceiling, Business and the Family

Jul 24Mark Gandy

First, I’m no economist … not even close. But I continue to be intrigued with all the talk about the government raising the debt ceiling.  While I have an opinion, I will keep it to myself.  However, I will point out that only 22% of Americans are in favor of increasing the nation’s debt load according to a recent Gallop poll. As a small-town CFO, what’s frustrating to observe is the government’s inability to execute on the basics of sound

Jul 23Mark Gandy

Incorporation Services

Jul 23Mark Gandy

I’m a big fan of incorporation services because they’ve got the system down to a perfect science at a low, affordable price. I’ve used such services before and they are super simple to use.

Jul 22Mark Gandy

Auditing firms, is this your field PC of the future?

Jul 22Mark Gandy

When I go to clients, I ALWAYS lug around a second monitor with me. I’ve been using dual monitors since 2004. So when I’m in the field, I need that second one. I’m also glad to say that most of my clients now have them (some even have three and four monitors).

Jul 21Mark Gandy

A Different Way to Bonus Employees

Jul 21Mark Gandy

Periodically, you need certain members of your team to step it up on a project which may range from a few weeks to a few months. There may be the temptation to raise that staff member’s pay.  Don’t do that.  Instead, add a new payroll item and describe it accordingly (CRM Captain, ERP Rollout Manager, M&A Project 1, etc.).  In short, it’s a type of bonus for that person going above and beyond their normal work activities which they will continue to

Jul 20Mark Gandy

Borders Reminds us Retail is Super Hard

Jul 20Mark Gandy

Retailers need to be able to spot trends quickly and then act accordingly. What was Borders doing when Amazon gained more and more market share? Why did it take Borders till last year to market a e-reader? Somewhere, innovation got lost in the corporate offices of Borders (up until the day they had corporate offices).

Jul 19Mark Gandy

Is Small Business Lending Drying Up?

Jul 19Mark Gandy

According a recent WSJ article, that appears to be the case based on their headline: Smaller Businesses Seeking Loans Still Come up Empty.

Jul 18Mark Gandy

July's Dashboard of the Month

Jul 18Mark Gandy

If you read this blog enough, you know my opinions about most dashboards we see in cyberspace.  Most are just downright idiotic.  It’s as though the author is saying, “look what I created.”  Instead, good dashboard design is simple to absorb, takes little real estate, and focuses on the key issues of a business (or whatever the topic is). Below is brilliant dashboard design.  The image came from a threaded discussion on Stephen Few’s website, one of my favorite authors

Jul 17Mark Gandy

Be Careful how You Flex Your Muscle

Jul 17Mark Gandy

Imagine making millions of dollars for flexing your muscles.  Literally.  Your job is selling the most popular health and fitness DVDs on the planet.  You train students on a daily basis.  For fun, you workout daily.  Each Sunday with friends, you head to the beach and do stuff many Olympic gymnasts would find difficult to do. Moving on, assume one day you are doing some intense workouts that are very advanced.  And then you hear somthing pop.  It doesn’t hurt,

Jul 16Mark Gandy

That Next Big Windfall

Jul 16Mark Gandy

Periodically, I have clients that hit a nice jackpot (and the kind within the normal couse of business). I’m not allowed to give advice on specific investments, but I can speak philosophically about personal finance and the pros and cons for certain investment decisions. Recently, one of my CEO’s asked for my advice on what to do with $xxx,xxx.  Heck, that was easy.  I knew he had house debt, so here’s what I recommended: 1. Pay-off the house freeing up some

Jul 15Mark Gandy

Financial Transparency

Jul 15Mark Gandy

For my top ___ clients, I meet every month with their bankers to go over our financials.  Additionally we provide them the same board-level reporting as the owners receive.  We hold nothing back, and I mean nothing. I call that financial transparency. Years ago, I was taught less is more.  Give the bankers as little as possible.  Some of my banker friends even tell me they get ‘no’ reporting.  That’s deplorable. Now, I have a change of mind.  I want

Jul 14Mark Gandy

Collection Agencies or Law Firms for Past-dues?

Jul 14Mark Gandy

I like collection agencies. Most have a solid set of systems and processes that work. If you would ever walk into a collection agency, you would know what I mean as the bigger ones have great technology. They are very systems driven and will be more effective than a small business can be in collecting past-dues. The cost? About 33% of the cash collected. The success rate? Pretty low. If you only have a handful of past-dues, the attorney route can be

Jul 10Mark Gandy

100 Million and Beyond

Jul 10Mark Gandy

Do you have a LinkedIn account?  How do you use it?  Effective?  Do you find leads there?  Are you in a group?  Do you pay for the premium account? Those questions and more were addressed in a recent survey by Lab42.  How can any person in business not pay attention to a site that boasts over 100 million users where a new person signs up every second? My favorite stat was that 90 percent of LinkedIn users think the site

Jul 9Mark Gandy

July Quote of the Month – The Other 20%

Jul 9Mark Gandy

Recently, I was venting about certain functionality of a certain big-time ERP system.  In fact, I called one of the screens a piece of crap (and believe me, it really is).  I was sharing my frustrations to a VAR that supports this system. And I loved his response … Mark, this ERP system is an 80 percent solution [meaning it has 80 percent of everything you need].  Unfortunately, the functionality you describe is part of the other 20 percent. In

Jul 8Mark Gandy

A Foolish Inventory Replenishment Story

Jul 8Mark Gandy

Us small town CFO’s in the heartland need to fill up while on the road.  No, I’m not talking gas (trying to cut back).  Instead, I’m talking green tea, water, power bars, and the like. And what’s the one question every clerk asks you when you get to the counter? “Anything else?” If I wanted something else, wouldn’t I have added it to my pile?  My favorite comedian, Brad Stine (at right), suggests saying, “Yeah, I want everthing else in this

Jul 7Mark Gandy

I Have the Cure to End Texting While Driving

Jul 7Mark Gandy

I have a way for businesses to improve cash flow through lower insurance premiums.  You see, texting while driving leads to accidents, which leads to higher premiums–not just for the idiots that text while driving, but for everyone. And the cure?  It’s right in my very backyard. Each day, I stress about twice a day going over a bridge that is being widened in Fayette (Missouri).  The stress-part is that it’s super narrow.  Plus, there are concrete barriers on each side with

Jul 6Mark Gandy

Muscle Milk and Strategic Relationships

Jul 6Mark Gandy

It’s everywhere.  Every c-store has it.  It’s in high-traffic areas of my local grocery stores.  It’s well merchandised. I don’t drink it, nor do I think it’s healthy, but Muscle Milk’s profits are seemingly soaring.  Not because of the so-called science behind its product.  Instead, it’s due to great marketing and a great distribution network.  You see, Pepsi is the distributor of Muscle Milk dating back to late 2008. Good move?  You gotta’ be kidding.  A stroke of genius. Looking

Jul 5Mark Gandy

Boone Hospital Center – WOW!

Jul 5Mark Gandy

Seems like Columbia’s (Missouri) Boone Hospital Center is always being renovated.  The last major improvements are, well, over the top. I had not stepped foot inside the facility since I watched a treasured family member breathe his last breath a few years ago.  Accordingly, I prefer staying away. However, someone who played a major role in shaping my upbringing during my college years was admitted a few days earlier, and I stopped by to him.  I was shocked.  It’s beautiful.

Jul 4Mark Gandy

Reflections on Independence Day – Never Forget

Jul 4Mark Gandy

A few minutes ago, I finished reading the Declaration of Independence and the Fairfax County Resolves, the latter being written about two years prior to the former. As I read these historic documents, a few words come to mind.  May we never forget. The reason we even have independence as a sovereign nation that bows down to no other is because a dedicated minority said enough is enough–enough of being ruled by a tyranous monarchy with no consent by the

Jul 3Mark Gandy

My Process for Giving

Jul 3Mark Gandy

A process for giving?  Isn’t that a little callous?  No, and let me explain. Last week, I made a contribution to a certain not-for-profit.  I made it clear I wanted my contribution to be private.  That’s the way my wife and I like it.  The executive director seemed to raise an eyebrow when I said that. Giving and privacy?  Why not?  If I want the world to know, then that’s advertising, not giving.  I already have a budget for advertising

Jul 2Mark Gandy

Employee Recognition

Jul 2Mark Gandy

Earlier this week, my youngest son did something in his favorite sport that he’s never accomplished since playing organized baseball.  The 17-year-old blasted his first home run over a fence for his Boonville-based American Legion team. My wife and I have been careful with all of our kids on how we handle any success they achieve.  We always focus on the effort, not the results as we do not want to send the wrong message about what’s important in life. And

Jul 1Mark Gandy

How do SMB Owners Get Timely Financial Information?

Jul 1Mark Gandy

Courtney Sato of FOCUS asked on a discussion thread how SMB owners ensure accurate financial information in a timely manner. Here was my response. Do you agree?  If not, what did I miss? Mark’s Parting Shot One last thing.  It’s critical you have an accounting manager on your staff that understands GAAP and financial analysis.  If not, you’ll never achieve what I mentioned above.  Again, it WILL NEVER happen.  Don’t care about solid numbers in a timely fashion?  Then staff your

Jun 30Mark Gandy

Are your Goals Hard or Smart?

Jun 30Mark Gandy

Give me a break … another blog entry in cyberspace about goals?  Let me see, this makes about the 4 billionth such entry in the Blogosphere. But I have a good reason.  The book Hundred Percenters isn’t that bad.  They talk HARD goals, not SMART goals.  The graphic below reveals the differences. But here was my favorite part of the book–the top 8 factors why goals are achieved by people: 1. I can vividly picture how great it will feel when

Jun 29Mark Gandy

Great Service and your Top and Bottom Lines

Jun 29Mark Gandy

Does great service guarantee a great bottom line?  Not necessarily.  I cannot live without my RIM Blackberry and they have great service and a great product.  But RIM continues to lose ground to the competition. But, does that mean service takes a back seat?  I know, dumb question. The following findings in the book Emotional Value are very compelling in becoming a business known for great service: Only 14 percent of customers who switch providers do it because they were unhappy

Jun 28Mark Gandy

Banks Need a Strategy Too

Jun 28Mark Gandy

I really enjoyed lunch with one of Columbia’s (Missouri) most successful entrepreneurs.  He was telling me about his last bank board meeting.  He’s trying to get them to think like a business. He asked them some great questions: What makes us different? What do we do differently than the other banks in town? Do we really know that much about our current customers? My friend made a great point.  He said the Board members believed online banking was one of their

Jun 27Mark Gandy

SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS

Jun 27Mark Gandy

Okay, I’ll make it quick and simple. I can’t stand CEO’s that are weak in their business intelligence.  Even if they don’t apply certain practices, it behooves the CEO to know basic concepts on a wide assortment of business topics.  Who knows, one of those concepts could be parlayed into a strategic initiative down the road. Accordingly, I still find myself having to define and re-define SaaS (over and over again … sorry for the needless redundancy).  So here are

Jun 26Mark Gandy

Mentors vs. Paid Advisors

Jun 26Mark Gandy

I really get a kick out of business people that say they have a mentor.  After doing a little probing, I find out their so-called mentor is really a paid advisor, not a mentor. And yes, there is a significant difference, and it’s worth the time to talk about. A mentor is typically a trusted friend, teacher, and even an advisor.  But I would go beyond that typical description.  A mentor is someone you invite into your life where you

Jun 25Mark Gandy

"One more thing …"

Jun 25Mark Gandy

I was saddened to hear about the passing of Peter Faulk, known for his TV role as Lt. Columbo.  Awesome show as I love mysteries.  Plus, I own some of the older episodes and several Columbo movies. While Columbo was obviously fictional, the character he played was successuful for several reasons: 1. He was relentess.  Once he went down a trail he knew was correct, he stayed on it.  He never deviated from that path. 2. He asked questions.  Tons of questions. 

Jun 24Mark Gandy

Accountants, want to grow in your career?

Jun 24Mark Gandy

I love helping young accountants grow.  Unfortunately, some just don’t want to go out of their way to improve their game. Below is a message I got from a young accountant, and he really, really gets it.  He’s only been a practicing accountant for less than two years.  I’m following his career, and he’ll make a great CFO some day.  Take a look at his question below. Sorry, I can’t tell you what how I responded.  That’s a secret. But

Jun 23Mark Gandy

Do your sales team members have drive?

Jun 23Mark Gandy

I’m pumped up on one of my current projects.  Strategic planning … the design stage is over, now we’re in execution mode (the really fun part). As I was visiting with the owners this morning, they were frustrated with one of their sales people.  He was in the office today doing quotes.  That’s the typical standard for these folks on Friday.  But their frustration is that he’s in the office too much. I know the guy too.  I really like

Jun 21Mark Gandy

What Happens When a Consultant Leaves During Your Project?

Jun 21Mark Gandy

I enjoyed participating in a roundtable discussion with two other experts hosted by Focus today.  The topic was about avoiding business performance management software failure.  In short, we talked about why BPM implementations fail. That’s because the new person will need about that many hours to get up to speed on the project.  I love it — great idea. On large contracts, this needs to be in writing.  On smaller ones, bring up this question and how to handle it should

Jun 20Mark Gandy

What is WITTB?

Jun 20Mark Gandy

I read a lot.  I mean a lot.  About 50 or so books a year.  Another 50 or so audio books.  I read magazines.  The top blogs on the planet (I mean cyberspace).  I love devouring white papers in my industry space.  I read technical journals.  I even read The Book. So why don’t I know what WITTB is? You see, I found this term on a statement in a tax return included with a list of other expenses. I

Jun 19Mark Gandy

A Simple Message for New Dads and Young Grooms

Jun 19Mark Gandy

And the simple message is that being a dad is awesome.  It beats any job on the face of the earth (sorry ladies). Looking back, I made many mistakes–wish I could take some of them back.  But for you guys who don’t have kids yet, or for you new ones, it will be a great ride.  Enjoy it.  It goes fast, really fast, too fast. Here are some things I hope you consider: 1. Time.  Give it generously.  In our

Jun 15Mark Gandy

What Would You Do with $1.5 Billion?

Jun 15Mark Gandy

Blow it? Put it under your pillow? I was early for a breakfast meeting yesterday, so I was catching up on the blogs I read regularly, and I read an account of Elon Musk’s newest business venture.  First, Elon Musk is the guy who started PayPal and sold it for a mere $1.5 billion. His interest in a space base on Mars led to insight about the high cost of space rockets–way too costly and only a couple vendors available to build

Jun 14Mark Gandy

A CFO Hack – Google Searches for XLS Files

Jun 14Mark Gandy

Have you ever done web research wishing your result would be in the form of a spreadsheet instead of a static web page?  Well, it’s really easy.  All you do is modify the search line like the one below.  For illustration purposes, I’m searching for spreadsheet examples of cash flow projections … Want to see more?  Here are some quick examples … sorry my microphone is not the greatest (I’m on a tight budget).

Jun 13Mark Gandy

3 Reasons I'm Glad the Mavericks Beat Miami

Jun 13Mark Gandy

I’m not really a fan of pro basketball.  I did watch the NBA All Star Game a few months ago.  That was enough for me.  I didn’t even watch the finals, but I did read about the games the day after. And as I thought of Dallas and their big star, Dirk what’s-his-name, I thought there was a strong comparison between the championship team and my client base.  Here goes. 1. It’s not about awards and accolades.  It’s about the

Jun 12Mark Gandy

Are You an Inventory-Based Business? Check this Out

Jun 12Mark Gandy

I’ve passed along this important website to businesses that sell inventory, and they have never been disappointed.  The website is EIM which stands for Effective Inventory Management. The site includes spreadsheets on inventory management you can purchase … And the site has about every topic imaginable on inventory management …

Jun 11Mark Gandy

What Does the Son of a Healthy CFO Take to his ACT Exam?

Jun 11Mark Gandy

Yeah, the little guy takes the big test later this morning at Hickman High School in Columbia (Missouri). And I’m doing my part.  I’ve provided Drew three key essentials which will give him an edge. Heart Rate Monitor Drew’s watch is acting up, so I’ve loaned him mine.  It’s a MIO and has a built-in heart rate monitor.  In case he’s stressing out, he can check his hear rate.  That may come in handy. Protein Bar I’m not sure if

Jun 10Mark Gandy

How Many Words are in Your Employee Handbook?

Jun 10Mark Gandy

Thousands?  Typically there are that many.  And seriously, who reads them anyway? What if you were one of the top employers in the country? Here’s what Nordrstrom’s used to look like up to a year or so ago … Welcome to Nordstrom We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them. Nordstrom Rules:

Jun 9Mark Gandy

Knowing Your Key Number

Jun 9Mark Gandy

Last night, I kept popping my head in the living room to catch Albert Pujols when he was batting.  I wanted to see if he could hit his fifth homer in five games–didn’t happen. One thing I noticed was that some of the Cardinal relievers kept getting behind in counts.  That’s what hurt their starter–he kept falling behind in counts. I heard one announcer talk about batting averages during certain counts.  Here’s how those numbers stack up: When the count

Jun 6Mark Gandy

CFO Top Concerns

Jun 6Mark Gandy

According to survey conducted by CFO Magazine and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, CFOs are 55.7% more optimistic about the U.S. economy in the first quarter compared to the previous quarter.  Only 15.6% are less optimistic. Consumer demand, competitor pricing pressues, and credit markets are their top concerns overall.  For their own businesses, concerns about maintaining margins and the cost of health care top the list. Below is a summary of the results I found most intriguing.  You can read

Jun 4Mark Gandy

What's Your PE Ratio?

Jun 4Mark Gandy

No, I’m not talking price to earnings ratio. Instead, I’m talking about your personal efficiency ratio. The equation is essentially your time of getting productive work done divided by time paid at work. So if I’m getting productive work done for 2 hours and being paid for 8, then my PE ratio is .25 — not very good. It seems like daily, I hear stories from my clients about how staff spends way too much time surfing the net, texting,

Jun 3Mark Gandy

Passionate Curiosity

Jun 3Mark Gandy

I swear I learn more from my clients than they learn from me.  Yesterday, one of my clients said he looks for passionate curiosity with his core team members.  Examples include managers who spend time reading about their chosen discipline outside work hours or studying to become certified in a certain business area on their own time. I’m adding another term.  Today, I met with a sales manager who has two weak links on his team.  My challenge to him was

Jun 1Mark Gandy

A CEO's Duties According to a VC

Jun 1Mark Gandy

Yesterday we had some fun in being CEO for a day at the Postal Service. But what do good CEO’s really do?  Who better to ask than a venture capitalist.  They certainly know the good ones and the bad ones as well. One of my favorite blog sites is AVC which is routine reading for many entrepreneurs.  Fred Wilson writes about this subject based on the comments of another fellow VC.  The article states: 1. CEO’s set the overall vision

May 31Mark Gandy

CEO for One Day at US Postal Service

May 31Mark Gandy

I’ve read where our postal service has lost $747 million in April and $3.3 billion on a year-to-date basis.  Those are serious bucks. So wouldn’t it be fun to be CEO for the Postal Service for just a day? Here’s what I would do. 1. Numbers–just the facts.  I’d carve up the data based into relevant revenue segments and look at the profibility of each major revenue segment.  I’d also get creative on my revenue segments.  Examples would include by

May 30Mark Gandy

Reflections on Memorial Day

May 30Mark Gandy

All of us know someone that we appreciate who has served in one of our nation’s military branches.  A couple years ago, I lost a family member who flew 20-plus B-17 missions over Germany during World War II.  Thankfully, about 10 years prior to his passing away, I interviewed him about his service to his country and that documentation in my journal is priceless. So as I think about Memorial Day, I’m thankful I live in a nation that’s based

May 29Mark Gandy

Understanding Financial Statements

May 29Mark Gandy

While the guide is several years old, I still like the document that Merrill Lynch created called Understanding Financial Reports. Download the document and read it as you have time: Understanding Financial Reports by Merrill Lynch

May 29Mark Gandy

A Checklist for Entrepreneurs

May 29Mark Gandy

I really like Steve Blank’s short lecture on the entrepreneur’s checklist. Some of the checklist items include: 1. Opportunity – where does the idea come from? 2. Customer – who is the user or payer? 3. Sales – what’s the channel to reach the customer? 4. Time to Market – how long does it take to get to market? You can learn about the rest of the checklist while viewing Mr. Blank’s short lecture.

May 28Mark Gandy

Even Great Restaurants Need Great Systems

May 28Mark Gandy

McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s.  They all have one thing in common (besides high fat content)–great processes and systems.  But what about five star restaurants? Here’s what the famed chef of Spain’s elBulli has to say about systems: It’s the whole system of elBullie that does it [makes a good chef better].  If you’re at Harvard, it’s not a single person that makes you better, it’s the system.  The way we function is based on model which holds that when you’re

May 27Mark Gandy

Online Retail Fraud Losses No Chump Change

May 27Mark Gandy

According to Internet Retailer, online retail fraud dropped for the second straight year in 2010 with losses at $2.7 billion or .9 percent of total revenues.  The high water mark for online fraud losses was $4.0 billion in 2008.  Last year was the first time losses as a percent of revenue dropped to under 1 percent. Key to Reduced Fraud Obviously it’s prevention.  Online retailers continue to dispute charge backs (if you are a CFO in the online retail world,

May 25Mark Gandy

So You Really Want the Corner Office?

May 25Mark Gandy

Must be nice.  Friend and fellow CFO Grant Brisacher passed along this photo from his client’s balcony.  Per Grant, “Pretty awesome!”  Absolutely concur.  The stadium is PETCO Park in downtown San Diego and the San Diego Bay is in the background. Incidentally, Grant has treated me to a game at PETCO Park, and the stadium is amazing.

May 24Mark Gandy

What Would Your Dream Board Look Like?

May 24Mark Gandy

If I could snap my fingers, every client of mine would have a Board of Directors–not more than 3 to 4 individuals.  Their qualifications would be current or past CEO’s that have tasted both hardship and success. I just read with great interest an article about ways to attract world-class board members.  The list applies to every business, large or small.  I was impressed with one of the first requirements, and I’ve listed it below: The rest of the article

May 23Mark Gandy

Can Drew Bledsoe Make it in the Wine Industry?

May 23Mark Gandy

A few weeks ago, I read with interest an article about former pro quarterback, Drew Bledsoe.  In 2003, he started a vineyard, and just last year he sold 600 cases of his first vintage, a 2007 Cabernet. Typically, entrepreneurially-minded sports stars open a restuarant after retirement, or allow their names to be used in that industry.  But the wine business?  Not that easy. Accordingly, I wanted to ask one of the nation’s financial thought leaders in the wine industry, Doug McCorkle, if Drew can make

May 22Mark Gandy

Never Hire a Social Media Expert?

May 22Mark Gandy

I’m luke warm on the buzz around social media.  As I’ve said before, it’s a (marketing) channel.  If that’s where your customers’ eyeballs are, use it.  Just don’t follow the crowd and do social media because everyone else is.

May 21Mark Gandy

Great Restaurants and LinkedIn Endorsements

May 21Mark Gandy

When you eat at a restaurant and you love it, what’s the first thing you usually do (well, maybe not the first thing).  You tell other people. Similarly for me, when I come across great business people who do great work, I like to brag on them (Jake Taylor, a Columbia, Missouri insurance broker comes to mind).  Accordingly, if they have a LinkedIn account, I like to endorse them. My endorsements are 1) sincere, 2) brutally honest, and 3) unexpected

May 20Mark Gandy

How One Client Made My Day

May 20Mark Gandy

A couple days ago, a long-time client called me to say thank you. First a little background.  I gave this special son of Columbia, Missouri a CD series that is one of my favorites.  At first, he did not listen to it.  Now, he’s going through the series for the third time. Our call lasted nearly 30 minutes, and he was very enthusiastic about the content.  Now, he wants his staff to go through the content, his family, fellow board members

May 19Mark Gandy

Never Bill by the Hour

May 19Mark Gandy

One of my favorite activities is listening to professional CFOs who want to become free agents at what they do–provide financial services for multiple businesses as a CFO contractor/consultant. The fist thing I want to find out is if they are on the rebound from a lost position through a merger or downsizing.  If so, they’ll never succeed.  The best free agent CFOs are ones who have a hunger that can never be satisfied in helping small to mid-sized businesses reach

May 18Mark Gandy

What Forecasting is Not

May 18Mark Gandy

Forecasting is not about predicting the future.  And while everyone knows that, the CEO’s and CFO’s in the war room continue to forecast like they are predicting what will likely happen.  At least that’s what I experience regularly through listening to corporate leaders. Instead, let this small-town CFO offer his take on forecasting (it can be cash, production levels, sales, or how many games the Cubs will lose this year): 1. Forecasting is about trying to make better business decisions

May 17Mark Gandy

Weekly Financials

May 17Mark Gandy

One of my favorite topics–weekly financial statements. My third controller/CFO client in 2001 actually taught me something.  While I was big on the one-day close or same-day close already, I never new about weekly financials in non-banking situations (as a KPMG Peat Marwick accountant, my bank clients had those ugly green bar reports showing their financials from the day before–so I knew about daily financials already, albiet in the banking arena). Ten years later, the weekly financial report is one

May 16Mark Gandy

Skills of the Best CEO's

May 16Mark Gandy

Last Friday, a company President agreed to move forward on an OBM (Open Book Management) project we’ll launch in about two weeks. Accordingly, I’ve been doing some additional research on what makes for the top CEO’s.  Actually, I sorta’ know because I’ve worked some incredible CEO’s over the past 11 years since working as a free agent CFO.  And I’ve also worked for some awful ones too.  So I have my list. I was intrigued by a 2009 article in the

May 14Mark Gandy

Are You Changing the World?

May 14Mark Gandy

As an entrepreneur, how are impacting everyone around you?  While it’s an old video by today’s standards, I still enjoy watching this one … enjoy:   If you would like the history on this video, check out the blog over at Grasshopper.  The creator of this video had a chance to sell it–for lots of money.  Instead, they wanted to donate all proceeds to Ashoka.  Great story.

May 13Mark Gandy

Facebook vs. Your Website – Wow

May 13Mark Gandy

If you want an example of the power of social media, consider this. Starbucks gets 1.8 million visitors to its website every month, Coca Cola some 270,000. By contrast their Facebook pages get 19.4 million and 22.5 million respectively, roughly 10 times the traffic. And every one of those people has given those companies permission to talk to them. The WSJ May 4, 2011, Business Joins the Party  Mark’s Take Hey, I’m just a financial geek.  I probabably won’t be

May 11Mark Gandy

Best Buy Vending and the 4 P's of Marketing

May 11Mark Gandy

On a recent trip I forgot my ear plugs for my iPod.  Frustrating, yep.  But more frustrating was paying for a new pair at the airport.  What a rip off. In a recent biz magazine, I was intrigued with Best Buy’s continued roll out of their vending machines at select airports.  When I saw that, I thought brilliant.  Better yet, the article said there would be no price gouging.  Prices would be similar to those of their Best Buy stores.

May 10Mark Gandy

Customer Service Starts Before the Sale Ever Happens

May 10Mark Gandy

Take a look at the picture at right. How long do you think it takes to mow that section of highway frontage? Oh yeah, there’s another piece on the other side. Give up?  The answer is easily an hour. And the tool of choice?  I can’t afford it.  So up until last week, it was a 21″ walk-behind Cub Cadet.  And yes, it was self-propelled.  Also, the slope is too dangerous for my garden tractor, also a Cub Cadet. And

May 8Mark Gandy

So You Really Want to Buy American?

May 8Mark Gandy

Well, when it comes to food products, absolutely. While not part of my CFO bag of tricks, since I work in retail and B2C products, you kinda’ pick up on some stuff. Here’s what I mean.  If you want to buy American (especially with food products), the first two digits will be 00 to 09 (which includes Canada). Here are few others where you can identify the country of origin: 690-692 China 30-37 France 47 Taiwan (the country of origin

May 7Mark Gandy

Quick Suggestions about Cyber Insurance

May 7Mark Gandy

Right now, the most neglected form of insurance coverage for those needing it is cyber insurance. Big banks and any other large organizations that maintain employee records like health entities know and understand their risks.  So they have the expertise to know what they need and how to buy cyber insurance. But for smaller companies, it’s a question mark.  So here’s what to do.  Just ask your agent if you are covered?  If yes, find out what’s included and what’s

May 6Mark Gandy

A Visit With Dr. Maxwell

May 6Mark Gandy

Many years ago, I met with a young man who looked like he just stepped of the cover of GQ magazine.  The year was around 2000 where we met in my office of the corporate headquarters of Orscheln Farm and Home to talk business.  He had lots of questions about starting a business, and specifically, a chiropractic practice. Roll the clock forward, and Dr. Jeremy Maxwell now is booked solid and has offices in Fayette, Missouri and nearby Columbia, his newest location.

May 5Mark Gandy

The Top Business Blog

May 5Mark Gandy

Can you guess the top business blog out in cyberspace?  No, it’s not mine.  I know, you are shocked, but get over it. Actually, I am shocked.  The top business blog according to Wikio.com is GigaOM.  Never heard of it–until a few minutes ago. Why is this important?  I’ll answer that by explaining the three reasons I like reading business blogs: 1. I want to understand business trends.  And it takes much reading content to start spotting trends. 2. Certain

May 4Mark Gandy

The DNA of an Entrepreneur

May 4Mark Gandy

Age 40.  Not 20 something like Bill Gates was when he started Microsoft or Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Instead, 40 is the average age of the entrepreneur when he/she started their company according to a study completed in 2009. I’ve been reading The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur, a Kauffman research paper.  Here are some of the other interesting findings: Most founders normally did better in high school than college. Most were better educated than their parents. Most are married and have

May 3Mark Gandy

Obvious Adams

May 3Mark Gandy

Over the weekend I put together my newest bookcase.  That meant moving books from one to the new one.  Along the way, I found the little 40-page book called Obvious Adams.  So last night I re-read it while the gals of the house watched a Hitchcock flick. I’ve heard some souls out there call Obvious Adams one of the best marketing books ever written?  Say what?  Come again?  Did I hear (read) that right? Okay, for a classic written over

May 2Mark Gandy

Banking Results Still Show Concerns for the Future

May 2Mark Gandy

As business owners, we need at a minimum a macro understanding of what’s happening with the ecomony. According to the latest FDIC quarterly report, banks earned $21.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010.  Full year 2010 income of $87.5 billion was the highest since 2007.  But sadly, 157 institutions still bit the bullet last year. According to the FDIC report, the key driver to higher bank profits was a drop in the provision for loan losses.  The report states

May 1Mark Gandy

What Would Deming Say About Your Business?

May 1Mark Gandy

Wouldn’t that be cool if Deming visited your business and gave you advice on your management practices? We lost a great thought leader when he passed away in 1993.  Like Drucker, I admire his work and writings.  Another reason I’m fond of Deming is that he’s from neighboring Iowa. So what would Deming say about your biz?  Would he be impressed?  Would he give you an A+ for quality?  Or a D?  What would he say about the way you

Apr 30Mark Gandy

The Perfect PC Monitors

Apr 30Mark Gandy

Or should we say monitors? So here we go.  Below is my number 1 item for this year’s Christmas list. Okay, a little over board, maybe.  I’ve been using dual monitors since 2004.  I take a second monitor with me when I travel to clients.  I’ve even got my team in the finance departments of my clients using them.  Funny, it was hard getting them to make the change.  Now, they’ll never go back. By the way, you can browse http://www.cinemassivedisplays.com/

Apr 29Mark Gandy

My New Kindle

Apr 29Mark Gandy

Finally, J.B. I bought my Kindle.  My long-time friend J.B. Waggoner recommended a Kindle and I finally bought one.  And here’s why. This past week, I traveled to Washington (the state).  And like I normally do, I took books.  Not one.   Not two, but three.  At the same time.  So I lugged around my laptop and three books that were a tad bulky.  Never again. Yeah, the technology is still new.  Not all older books are on the Kindle.  But

Apr 28Mark Gandy

Home At Last – And QuickTrip

Apr 28Mark Gandy

As I left the Kansas City airport today headed back home, I needed gas.  And I stopped at one of my favorite stores — QuickTrip. There are three reasons I go out of my way to fill up at QuickTrip: 1. Clean, and I mean very clean.  When I think of the customer experience, I think of Disney World or a great restaurant.  But a c-store?  Hardly.  But walking into a QuickTrip is special because they take cleanliness to a whole new

Apr 27Mark Gandy

The Reason CEOs Fail

Apr 27Mark Gandy

I am constantly wanting to know what makes for a good CEO and a bad one too.  And while everyone has their opinion on what makes for a great CEO and a poor one, EXECUTION has to rank right up there. Recently, I came across a jewel of an article over at Fortune called Why CEOs Fail.  The reason?  Not lack of intelligence or vision.  But the failure to execute. It’s bad execution. As simple as that: not getting things

Apr 26Mark Gandy

The Biggest Outcome of Higher Gas Prices

Apr 26Mark Gandy

I was recently reviewing the the website called CEOExpress.  That website has about every link imagineable for the CEO.  And yes, there’s even and ESPN link, but I had to do a search to find the link. One of their surveys caught my eye regarding inflation, and specifically, higher gas prices.  According to the survey, 81 percent of those voting stated homebuilding and other businesses will suffer, slowing the economic recovery.  Thene there was a big drop where only 10

Apr 25Mark Gandy

A Great Discussion on the Health Care Credit

Apr 25Mark Gandy

Bob Jennings is an awesome tax seminar speaker, and I love his great stories and humor.  Now that tax season is over, here’s Bob’s take on the credit for small businesses.

Apr 24Mark Gandy

Sunday – A Day Off

Apr 24Mark Gandy

As I drove through metro Fayette today, I was impressed that C&R was closed, our mega, big-box grocery store. And that reminds me of the days when I was a youngster.  Just what store was open on a Sunday?  Maybe a few restuarants, and that was about it. Nearby Columbia, Missouri has a Hobby Lobby, and I continue to be impressed that that they are sticking to their core convictions by remaining closed each and every Sunday.  And, they close

Apr 22Mark Gandy

The REAL Wealthy Barber

Apr 22Mark Gandy

One of my favorite ‘man’ places to go each month is Hair Unlimited.  I’ve been going there since 2003.  First it was Kirk.  But one day he was unavailable, and since I wait till the last minute to call for my ‘do, Rob saved the day, and he’s been my barber ever since (and yes, Kirk was okay with it). For about 20 minutes, I can relax and visit with my barber who has become a friend.  It’s true, there’s

Apr 21Mark Gandy

Some Painful Tax Survey Results

Apr 21Mark Gandy

Thirty-three percent and two weeks. That’s the percentage of small business owners that spend at least two weeks on Federal income taxes.  And here’s another bizarre stat.  A whopping 87% pay an outside accountant or tax return preparer. The survey released by the National Small Business Association also reveals payroll taxes are ranked as the most burdensome taxes, yet only 44% use an external payroll company. Mark’s Take 1. Two weeks?  The purpose of business is to create and innovate products and

Apr 20Mark Gandy

Is It Time to Move to a Bigger CPA Firm?

Apr 20Mark Gandy

Fortunately, many of my clients have some great CPA’s they work with.  A few that come to mind are Joel Kamil of St. Louis, Jim Marberry of Columbia, Bert Doerhoff of Jefferson City, and Kirk Michels from the great state of Washington.  And there are others. But when is it time to move to a bigger CPA as the small business starts becoming a bigger, small business, then a medium-sized business? I have my opinions, but I wanted to bring

Apr 19Mark Gandy

Do you have a planning and analysis cycle?

Apr 19Mark Gandy

Well do you?  And do you know what it is? I’ll be speaking as a paid sponsor at the 19th Annual Gathering of the Games Conference which is an awesome event that the Great Game of Business hosts every year for excutives and their team members all around the country.  The event is held annually in St. Louis.  This will be my first Gathering and I’ve been promised I’ll get to meet Jack Stack, the author of the Great Game of Business (get

Apr 18Mark Gandy

Dilbert's Scott Adams on Kids and Business

Apr 18Mark Gandy

If you’ve managed to read through my posts over the past few months (and you are truly amazing if you have), then you will know I’m big on teaching entrepreneurship to our kids and getting them involved in our businesses. I recall helping number one when he was 14.  A neighbor had to give up mowing several yards, so he asked number one if he would be interested.  Presto, a business was born.  I bought his equipment with an interest-free

Apr 16Mark Gandy

What's Your War Room Look Like?

Apr 16Mark Gandy

I love technology, especially cool tools that help us business executives make better decisions.  Even for the small $1 million firm, every such business should have a war room where it plans, makes decisions, and continually assesses its execution. But what belongs in the war room?  Here’s my wish list that you can borrow, and don’t worry, it’s not like the one at Iglo-Ola shown in the image at right. In fact, all of my suggestions can probaby be acquired

Apr 15Mark Gandy

For IT Professionals Only

Apr 15Mark Gandy

The Federal Government’s current Information Technology (IT) environment is characterized by low asset utilization, a fragmented demand for resources, duplicative systems, environments which are difficult to manage, and long procurement lead times.   These inefficiencies negatively impact the Federal government’s ability to serve the American Public. From the Executive Summary on Federal Cloud Computing Strategy published by the U.S. Chief Information Officer Well, that’s reassuring.  Want to read more?  Here’s the link to that document.

Apr 14Mark Gandy

Wow, these rates are awesome!!

Apr 14Mark Gandy

I had lunch with one the young and rising banking stars on the Columbia, Missouri business front this week. Craig Riordan of United Missouri Bank has a great career ahead of him — sharp, great communication skills, well-versed in business, and loves his industry. During lunch, he was showing me some rates on equipments loans.  Incredible rates, and they are listed below at Craig’s approval.  By the way, I’ll be interviewing Craig for an upcoming blog post, probably next week.

Apr 13Mark Gandy

A Tool for Better Forecasting

Apr 13Mark Gandy

In some businesses, forecasting is imperative.  Retail, distribution, and many other industries require some form of forecasting to match supply and demand. And what happens when the forecast is continually off?  I mean really off. Have you considered a waterfall template?  Mine is below: Each month, just forecast your numbers.  The yellow cells are for actual.  Notice it’s easy to look back to see how you did with prior forecasts all on one page. Mark’s CFO Take on Using this

Apr 12Mark Gandy

Should you Use Groupon?

Apr 12Mark Gandy

First, do you know what Groupon is? In short, pick an item to sell.  Determine a discount.  Then follow the steps to promote your discounted product.  You can learn more at GrouponWorks for Businesses. So back to the original question, should you use Groupon? Like any business initiative, you should study and analyze it before making a decision.  Even the best marketing people will say you need to do the math.  Bottom line, you need to understand the return on

Apr 11Mark Gandy

Do You Belong to a Mastermind Group?

Apr 11Mark Gandy

Just about every Friday, I have lunch with a CEO and his son.  Awesome lunches, great discussions, and all three of us learn a lot. During our last lunch, we made the decision to invite three others and continue our good thing. And this leads me to my question.  Do you have a small group of CEO’s you meet with regularly to talk shop?  To leran?  To share ideas, frustrations, and other issues that can remain confidential?  If not, you

Apr 10Mark Gandy

What's on Your April Reading List?

Apr 10Mark Gandy

The best leaders are avid readers.  One of my most gifted CEOs actually doesn’t read that much, but he listens to books instead.  And there’s even one he listens to at least twice a year. I always appreciate when CEO’s share their reading lists with me.  Well, here’s mine.  One of my personal goals in 2011 was to widen my reading selection, and it will show with what I’m reading below. Churchill by Paul Johnson I’ve always wanted to read

Apr 9Mark Gandy

Are you a Crappy CEO?

Apr 9Mark Gandy

Well, if you are asking, probably. First, let me digress for a minute or two. In my humble opinion, the biggest weakness of most executives is leadership skills and communication.  Inspiring and motivating staff ranks up there too. And it only makes sense.  Most entrepreneurs go into business because they have a great product or service they want to roll out.  There’s a fire in the belly that just won’t stop.  But people issues?  Heck, they’re machines.  They should want

Apr 8Mark Gandy

A CRM to Consider

Apr 8Mark Gandy

Finally, a CRM that makes sense, and easier to use than Salesforce. Frequently, I’m asked about a  CRM they should use.  My typical response is Salesforce, Highrise, or Zoho. Salesforce looks and feels big.  Lots to learn.  And I don’t just want the cheap version.  Highrise is stupidly simple.  Even I can use it.  But it’s simplicity gets in the way.  Plus, I can’t integrate it with its other tools. Right now, I’m testing Solve360 for a new business I

Apr 7Mark Gandy

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

Apr 7Mark Gandy

Should you tweet? If you are asking, NO! Actually, I have nothing against Twitter or even Facebook.  And here’s a disclaimer.  I don’t have any accounts with them. But why the negativity? Let’s get back to the basics. Why are you in business?  Your sole reason for being in busines is because you have an awesome product or service that is head and shoulders above everyone else.  You are making a difference in the world and you’ll leave your mark

Apr 6Mark Gandy

Strategy the Right Way

Apr 6Mark Gandy

My favorite growth consultant is Verne Harnish of Gazelles.  I’d give a left arm if he could spend 10 minutes with every client of mine. Accordingly, I read everything he writes. Over at Fortune, he writes about effective strategies based on the actions of several successful CEOs.  In short, here were his key points on great strategy: 1. Play to win. 2. Ask customers for ideas. 3. But know which ones to ignore. 4. Get middle management involved (or key

Apr 5Mark Gandy

Interesting Webinar on Financials

Apr 5Mark Gandy

I always appreciate a good sense of humor, especially from my clients.  J.B. Waggoner of Missouri-based Inovatia Laboratories sent this webinar announcement.  He thinks the name of the class should be How to Cook the Books instead of Financial Statement Facelift.  In fairness to the company doing this webinar, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome.

Apr 4Mark Gandy

Butler back to the Final

Apr 4Mark Gandy

Amazing. David didn’t necessarily slay Goliath, but it’s a similar story. Quick, where is Butler?  Who is Brad Stevens? First, Bulter is near Indianapolis.  And next, Brad Stevens is an amazingly young coach who carries himself like a young John Wooden.  While Stevens is married, he’s the type of person you would want your daughter to marry. Anyway, why did Butler win?  I’ll sum it up in a few words: 1. They knew their goal. 2. They had a clear

Apr 3Mark Gandy

Tracking Internal Projects in QuickBooks

Apr 3Mark Gandy

I”m not a fan of Intuit’s QuickBooks, but used properly with good processes and systems in place, there’s a place for this software in the small business. Ever wish you could track a project quickly, an internal one that is? Let’s assume you are adding a small office edition to your facility.  Some of those costs will be expensed to multiple accounts.  Others will be capitalized in your fixed assets accounts.  It’s easy to lose the dollar amount spent on

Apr 2Mark Gandy

Personal Finance – A Quick Look at Gold

Apr 2Mark Gandy

A few days ago, I was asking one of the leading jewelry experts in Columbia about gold.  And in his business, he’s made great money at it over the past three years. Here was my question.  Is gold a good investment? He took some time to think about it.  And before I tell you what he said, he buys some gold every month. And the answer?  No, not really.  But can it be some insurance for down the road (we

Apr 1Mark Gandy

Recylcing Old PCs in Columbia, Missouri

Apr 1Mark Gandy

A few days ago, I started cleaning out my basement which includes a corner of old PCs and printers.  And just what do you do with old equipment that needs to be discarded?  Take it to Personalized Computers in downtown Columbia (Missouri).  Great service, and I appreciate them for doing this.  They even take those big monitors (remember those?). But here’s another idea.  Check out Gazelle.com.  Not only can you get rid of old electronics equipment included cell phones, they’ll

Mar 31Mark Gandy

When was the last time you said 'Thanks'?

Mar 31Mark Gandy

I have a personality that does not require much positive affirmation.  Do I like it?  Sure.  But I can live without it. But I am disappointed when people, especially executives and professional service providers, take a kind act for granted.  In short, they forget to say ‘Thank You’.  Trivial?  Maybe.  But think of the people who receive those thank you notes. A few days ago, I learned of a situation where the accounting manager of one of my clients sent

Mar 30Mark Gandy

Michael Jordan vs. Warren Buffet

Mar 30Mark Gandy

No, we’re not talking basketball. Both make big-time bucks. Both have a positive image and very recognizable names (from a PR point of view). Both will continue to make money (although Jordan’s cash flow will probably decelerate over time). But here’s the big difference … So who is the better spender?  Who is making the better decision on certain assets? Mark’s CFO Take on Personal Assets First, it’s none of my business what you do with your personal assets.  That’s

Mar 29Mark Gandy

Contracts and SaaS – A Great Combo

Mar 29Mark Gandy

Wow, what will they think of next? Ever need a contract signed quickly?  And think of the steps required to get the document delivered not to mention getting the darned thing back into your hands. There’s a great tool called EchoSign.  In short, you upload or fax an electronic copy to EchoSign.  You enter the recipient’s email address with a note.  Then send.  It’s that simple.  Check it out. So long FedEx!

Mar 28Mark Gandy

Canadian Independent Contractor

Mar 28Mark Gandy

I’ve just hired a firm that would qualify for a 1099 if they were a U.S. tax citizen in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service. However, this is a Canadian consulting firm.  So do us businesses send our northern neighbors a 1099?  Typically, no.  Especially if they do not have a U.S. social security number or Federal tax I.D. number. Yes, exceptions apply, but generally, no. As always, ask your tax CPA.

Mar 27Mark Gandy

Great Quote on Scorecards

Mar 27Mark Gandy

To make (and keep) your business a success, you need to not only keep score, but also predict your score in advance by setting goals and then achieving them on a consistent basis.  Balanced Scorecard Strategy for Dummies, by Hannabarger, Buchman, and Economy, Chapter 1.

Mar 26Mark Gandy

5 Simple Requirements for your Staff

Mar 26Mark Gandy

Well, maybe they are not so simple after all.  But here’s the list (and I’m writing this with a client in mind–a very technical-oriented company). 1. Competence (in what they do) 2. Tracking their own results (every staff member need their own scorecard so they can track their success and fail rate) 3. Communication (with both internal and external customers) 4. Problem-solving skills (which can be taught) 5. Teamwork If every team member scores 4 or 5 stars on a

Mar 25Mark Gandy

A Simple Problem Solving Technique

Mar 25Mark Gandy

Do you play baseball Catchball? If I’m not mistaken, Catchball has its roots in lean manufacturing (I could be wrong). In short, Catchball is an organizational method of getting problems resolved by staff. Here’s a perfect example–a simple one.  Let’s say web surfing is a problem in the office.  How do you cure it?  At your next staff meeting, address the problem, then throw it to a team member for an idea.  Once they provide an idea, they pass the

Mar 24Mark Gandy

Habits, Not Discipline

Mar 24Mark Gandy

I recently hired a consultant for one of my clients.  I asked him to share a success story during the interview process. He mentioned that a recent client had to be very disciplined in order to move from chaos to small wins, and eventually to a stronger business with cash flows.  He emphasized discipline. Later, I gently corrected him.  Discipline doesn’t work.  Brute force only works on the battle field. Will can only take you so far. Instead, the name

Mar 23Mark Gandy

One of my favorite interview questions

Mar 23Mark Gandy

I love this question when interviewing job candidates … After you arrange a call between your last two supervisors and me, what will they say about you? What will the good ones say? The not-so-good ones. I love this question. It’s a variation of a question recommended by Brad Smart from the book Topgrading.

Mar 22Mark Gandy

The Class System of Accounting and Finance

Mar 22Mark Gandy

There’s definitely a class system at work in the accounting and finance departments in businesses around the planet.  Here’s how it works. 1. Clerks – they get stuff done.  They enter bills, pay bills, reconcile cash, and do the stuff the folks up the food chain never want to touch.  You have to have these people. 2. Accountants – they are more focused on the general ledger.  They oversee the work of the clerks and do project-oriented work throughout the

Mar 20Mark Gandy

Does Motivation Matter?

Mar 20Mark Gandy

First, the context.  Your employees.  Highly motivated as opposed to hardly motivated. So, the obvious answer is yes.  Absolutely. John Maxwell in his book Everyone Communicates Few Connect, he quotes Bill Hybels about this very matter: Lots of studies that I read tossed around numbers like 40 percent or even higher when they compared the performance of motivated employees versus unmotivated employees.  A 40 percent performance differential; staggering to me.  I read where one study said motivated employees are 87 percent

Mar 19Mark Gandy

When Moving to a PEO, Don't Forget …

Mar 19Mark Gandy

Moving to a PEO?  Good move. Oh yeah, don’t forget to do this.  When filing that last 941, mark the box that you have stopped paying wages and the date you did so.  DO THIS, it’s very critical.  Or you may just get a surprise visit from you-know-who. Here’s another suggestion.  Ask your PEO if a letter should accompany the final 941 you submit.  They have their protocols in place and will provide you good feedback on this matter.

Mar 18Mark Gandy

Plan for Better or Worse

Mar 18Mark Gandy

Reid Hoffman is the co-founder of LinkedIn and he tells a blogger at Entrepreneur 10 rules for Entrepreneurial Success. Of the ten, my favorite is his comment about for better or worse. And I would call this scenario planning. Scenario planning is simple.  It’s identifying scenarios that could happen and showing how those could impact the business on a bottom line basis (along with cash flow, cash reserves, and debt balances). Here are a few scenarios to consider: 1. Loss of

Mar 17Mark Gandy

Can You Withhold a Final Paycheck?

Mar 17Mark Gandy

Say you loaned an employee a dollar amount which is in writing.  The loan agreement calls for withholding of funds each pay period to reduce the loan balance. The employee is terminated and the loan balance is greater than the final paycheck.  Now what? Can you withhold the final paycheck to offset the outstanding loan balance the employee owes you? In Missouri, the answer is no. Further Takeaways 1. If you have an agreement with an employee, make sure an

Mar 16Mark Gandy

Starbucks – I'm Done With You

Mar 16Mark Gandy

Not that I’m a big coffee drinker anyway. First, let’s talk customer service. Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase according to Wikipedia.  I’m okay with that, although it’s a minimalist view of good customer service. Recently, an HR director of one of my clients was telling me about an experience she had at the Starbucks on West Broadway in Columbia, Missouri.  One of the employees was looking for a flavor in an

Mar 15Mark Gandy

Still Not Sure What a CFO Does?

Mar 15Mark Gandy

Look no further.  With compliments to INC. magazine, here’s a CFO job description hosted on one of my service providers at docstoc. // CFO job description –

Mar 14Mark Gandy

Should you be an entrepreneur?

Mar 14Mark Gandy

I’m an accountant by trade, but I love the game of business.  I have several business ideas that will be hatching this year.  So when I come across tests like the one at Forbes, I take them. I scored in the middle where you are tested on whether you should work for someone else or be in business for yourself. When you finish the test, you get the display above.  You can then select an entrepreneur after the test to

Mar 13Mark Gandy

Japan – Be Strong and Courageous

Mar 13Mark Gandy

I can’t even relate.  First, our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with you.  You will rise up and ultimately over this horrendous tragedy.  All good people do. I’ve come close to the deadly paths of two tornadoes, but my properties in both instances were just a mile or so from the the treacherous treks each one took.  But those twisters are nothing compared to what is unfolding before us. I don’t even like looking at the pictures we see hourly.  Accordingly,

Mar 12Mark Gandy

Youth and Wealth

Mar 12Mark Gandy

I love these kind of stories. Over at Forbes, there’s a great story about kids making big-time money in varying business ventures.  The key to their sucess was 1) meeting a need, 2) following a hobby or passion, and 3) persistence. No excuses.  Think you have too many problems with your own business?  Think again.  If these kids can pull it off, so can you. Share this with your kids.  Who knows, maybe it will take care of those college bills.

Mar 10Mark Gandy

March Quote of the Month

Mar 10Mark Gandy

I love a great quote, and this month’s quote of the month comes from my friend and client J.B. Waggoner.  J.B. is one of the founders of Inovatia Laboratories and is the CEO at that awesome environmental firm. We were talking about book titles, and after suggesting his next read, here’s what this master of the English language had to say: I am going to start this book as soon as I learn the Five Dysfunctions – all while using

Mar 9Mark Gandy

Does your banker care about you?

Mar 9Mark Gandy

I’m in banking season right now.  I’m working on new loans and refinancing existing ones.  I’m also going over the past year with my bankers on behalf of my clients.  And that got me to thinking about banking relationships.  Consider the following questions. 1. When was the last time your banker initiated a call or a visit with you?  If recent, good for you (assuming he/she wasn’t asking where the last loan payment was). 2. When your banker visits with you

Mar 7Mark Gandy

Picking the Right Domain Name

Mar 7Mark Gandy

I’m convinced there is no process harder than picking a business name or your domain name (or both). A few months back, one of my clients required my terrible creativity skills in picking a business name and it’s domain name.  It took us about 45 days.  The entire staff participated.  And once we picked a name we all liked, someone in Canada wanted our name.  Letters went back and forth.  I was worried about legal action for a while.  But

Mar 6Mark Gandy

Bummer, MU Loses First Home Game

Mar 6Mark Gandy

KU is too much.  They played a bad game and still won on the road. Well, at least the company was great.  Many thanks to Columbia businessmen Tiger John Cleek and Tiger John Cleek Jr. for giving their section 213 tickets to players and dads of the Heritage Warriors basketball team (the later Cleek is the team’s coach). And here’s a neat side note about the Cleek’s–great people, great family, and people of faith.  Every season, they share their block

Mar 5Mark Gandy

3 Business Agreements You Need

Mar 5Mark Gandy

Kudos to Barbara Weltman over at the American Express Open Forum.  She has written an article about three business agreements you need to have.  It’s short and excellent advice. While her article is better, here are the three she mentions: Confidentiality Agreement Seems like a no-brainer till you really need it and realize you don’t have it.  One of my clients fired an employee just a few weeks ago for sharing pricing information to unauthorized third parties.  Yeah, the guy

Mar 3Mark Gandy

Is a low current ratio bad?

Mar 3Mark Gandy

The answer is a resounding NO!!!  But more on that in a minute. I must confess, I like seeing a current ratio of at least 1.5 on all of my balance sheets.  And the 1.5 is only meaningful if the quality of receivables and inventory is high. What is it? The current ratio is current assets divided by current liabilities.  The very best financial analysts actally exclude the line of credit with this calculation which I agree with.  But since

Mar 2Mark Gandy

Internet Sales to Hit $443 Billion in 2015

Mar 2Mark Gandy

According to the February edition of Internet Retailer, Internet sales will range from $285 billion in 2011 to $443 billion in 2015.  As a percentage of all retail sales, that share ranges from 6.4 to 9.2 percent.  While the share of Internet sales will grow, the growth of internet sales will start slowing.  The 2010 growth of Internet sales was 18%.  By 2015, annual growth of Internet sales will only be 9.4 percent. Your Internet Strategy First, do you have one?  And even if you

Mar 1Mark Gandy

127 Hours and the Emotions in Business

Mar 1Mark Gandy

Last night’s Academy Awards caused me to note the movies Debbie and I need to see in the coming months on DVD.  127 Hours–not.  No way.  I know the story and my stomach could never take it.  I’ve been told that the certain part (you know which one if you know the story) is a little too real. 127 Hours is about the true story of Aron Ralston who was pinned under a boulder for five days after hiking in Utah

Feb 28Mark Gandy

The Oscars Go Youth Movement

Feb 28Mark Gandy

Interesting.  Yahoo is my home page and the first headline this morning I see IS NOT about best picture or best actor, rather how James Franco bombed as an Oscar co-host.  Personally, I think I liked his laid-back personality better than Anne Hathaway’s bubbly demeanor. The ‘experts’ in my household informed me Franco and Hathaway were chosen to appeal to younger audiences.  If that’s true, make the show be 15 or 30 minutes. But here’s my point.  As the Oscars went youth

Feb 28Mark Gandy

3400% Growth

Feb 28Mark Gandy

So what does a company look like that grows 3400% year-over-year and signs up their 6,000,000th user? Take a look at this graphic on foursquare’s blog.

Feb 27Mark Gandy

To LIBOR or not to LIBOR

Feb 27Mark Gandy

Interest rate risk.  Ah, my favorite thing in the world. Just kidding.  This is hard stuff.  Remember, I”m just a small town CFO from the nation’s breadbasket. Most of your borrowing is pegged off the prime rate which stands at 3.25%.  And typically, you are borrowing at 100 basis points to 150 above prime. However, with larger banks, you can take advantage of short-term LIBOR-based notes.  For short-term borrowing needs, say 3, 6, even 9 months, take every advantage of the

Feb 26Mark Gandy

What if you lost your Star* Employee?

Feb 26Mark Gandy

For those of you that follow baseball, you might know that Adam Wainright of the St. Louis Cardinals has been one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball for the last 2 years.  Last year, he won 20 games and then 19 then year before that.  The guy is just plain solid.  Plus, he’s awesome in the clubhouse.  And he loves learning how to improve his game from other pitchers.  He’s any manager’s dream of a player. Unfortunately,

Feb 25Mark Gandy

My Newest Toy – A Heart Rate Monitor

Feb 25Mark Gandy

One of my newest toys is a heart rate monitor.  Why didn’t I have one of these when I ran? I used to run some 1,000 miles a year in my 30′s and early 40′s.  When I ran races, I did the first mile way too fast.  I was wasted at the end and finished poorly.  I started learning how to pace myself, but a heart rate monitor would have greatly helped.  My best 5k time was 18:10.  With a heart

Feb 24Mark Gandy

The Great Game of Business

Feb 24Mark Gandy

Probably my favorite business book is The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack.  It’s part biography and part how-to for a growing, struggling company.  The underlying business is Springfield ReManufacturing Company based in Springfield, Missouri.  In short, this is the one book every business owner should read. I was fortuanate to meet the A-Team members at spin-off company The Great Game of Business, a company that teaches business basics like showing employees how to think like owners.  And I was

Feb 23Mark Gandy

February Quote of the Month

Feb 23Mark Gandy

A few weeks ago, I had a great time going to a MIZZOU game with one of my favorite clients and his banker.  Great steaks before and a nail-biting win afterwards.  There was one downside.  Leaving.  Getting out of that parking lot is like doing Boston Marathon. That night, if you were to ask me who held the single-game scoring record, I might have said: John Brown Anthony Peeler Doug Smith Willie Smith Norm Stewart Nope, not even close.  Go back

Feb 22Mark Gandy

Revenue UP, Liabilities UP, Profits and Equity DOWN

Feb 22Mark Gandy

LinkedIn is great, and I especially like LinkedIn Groups.  I typically do not leave comments as there are too many great professionals out there.  I tend to stay on the sidelines and I’m great at watching. In one group, a member stated his 10-year company experienced revenue growth along with growth in liabilities and a drop in equity.  Plus, earnings were dropping too. I didn’t have all the facts, but here were my comments.  I just couldn’t stay on the

Feb 21Mark Gandy

Domain Names – An Alternative to You-Know-Who

Feb 21Mark Gandy

So you need a domain name, and you are like me, you want to stay away from a certain company.  Some of my LinkedIn connections provided this list that may give you some ideas. Remember, do your homework. 1and1 Dotster Got-Hosting (aka Green Olive Tree) Hostgator (probably the favorite) Bluehost NameCheap

Feb 19Mark Gandy

Economic Rebound – Ridiculously Foolish Thinking

Feb 19Mark Gandy

Yesterday, I had lunch with one of my favorite people.  And that would be long-time friend and client, Don Mayse, a farmer at heart and just an all-around awesome guy.  And his forever sweatheart and wife Mary Lou is super awesome too who couldn’t join us. Quickly to the point, the U.S. economy stinks.  It has for years, and we’ve dug such a deep hole, I fear we’ll never get out.  In fact, I’m certain of it. Way too much debt.  Way too much junk

Feb 17Mark Gandy

The Inventory Curse, Too Much or Too Little

Feb 17Mark Gandy

It doesn’t matter how large or small your retail operation is, almost every owner suffers from inventory management problems.  In some cases, inventory levels are too high causing ongoing cash flow problems.  If inventory levels are too low, cash flow problems still occur as a result of stockouts depressing sales.  So just what is the solution? The first step is knowing how to evaluate the performance of your inventory investment.  This process works whether you have a store front or

Feb 16Mark Gandy

What Does Your Flash Tool Look Like?

Feb 16Mark Gandy

Every business, large or small, needs a simple flash reporting system to explain what’s been happening in the short term. I like mine simple and to the point. They have to be easy and quick to read. And absolutely no foolish and mindless eye candy (like those ridiculous dashboards polluting cyberspace). Below is one such example.

Feb 15Mark Gandy

CEO or Entrepreneur

Feb 15Mark Gandy

Are you a CEO or an Entrepreneur?  Is there really a difference?  Yes, according to a recent INC. article. I was fascinated by an article called How Great Entrepreneurs Think.  The article is based on research and goes on to list characteristics of the entrepreneur and the corporate leader. Give it a read and decide where you fall.  There’s really no wrong or right answer.  Start-ups and fast-growth companies need entrepreneurs.  They need hunters, not farmers or shepherds.  On the

Feb 14Mark Gandy

A February 14 CFO Message

Feb 14Mark Gandy

I’ve been doing my thing for 11 years.  And I’ve seen it over and over again with business owners.  Business first, family second.  Is that right? Yes, I know the story.  You get busy.  Then really busy.  Then buried.  The first to go is family time.  Then your body.  Then your spirit.  Ring a bell? So here’s a suggestion.  Just do it.  Make time for your spouse at least once per week.  Ditto for the kids.  Make it a priority. 

Feb 13Mark Gandy

Looking for an E-marketing Tool?

Feb 13Mark Gandy

1. You can determine your exact return on investment. 2. You can reach a large audience. 3. Everyone uses the medium. 4. The tool is easy to use, easy to learn, and affordable. The answer?  E-mail marketing. Looking for some options?  Consider the three below that are widely used.  Read their blogs and customer success stories.  Find out what makes each company unique. www.icontact.com www.getresponse.com www.myemma.com  

Feb 12Mark Gandy

Creating a Unique Process

Feb 12Mark Gandy

I recently had a successful business owner ask me whether a certain service existed that he’s been searching for without luck of any kind.  His business is high-end custom cabinet installation in the residential real estate industry. His problem?  Sourcing vendors.  He was looking for a service where vendors are qualified in terms of price, quality, and delivery. I shared with him the limitations of services like D&B and others like them.  But I was intrigued with the need. I

Feb 11Mark Gandy

What's my EBITDA Multiple?

Feb 11Mark Gandy

Well, it depends. It could be range from 3 to 8 given many factors. In short, the market determines that multiple. And the bigger the market (interest) in your business, the higher that number can grow. Or put another way, a large demand for a one-of-a-kind business can spell a very nice payday. Click on the image below to listen to Larry Reinharz of the Woodbridge Group, a leading M&A firm specializing in firms with revenues of $5 to $100 million. 

Feb 10Mark Gandy

Crowdsourcing

Feb 10Mark Gandy

I recently suggested to a group of entrepreneurs that they consider crowdsourcing to get work done.  The original question was about finding local service providers to do certain types of work.  Yes, we need to know about quality resources locally and network accordingly to find that expertise. But crowdsourcing is normally affordable, efficient, and effective.  No payroll taxes, no vacations, no …. well, you get the idea. In short, crowdsourcing is outsourcing.  But you are posting your work requirement to the masses and then

Feb 9Mark Gandy

My Advice to an Entrepreneur about Venture Capital

Feb 9Mark Gandy

I served on panel where entrepreneurs and business owners could ask questions on any topic. One person asked about raising funds from venture capitalists. Here was my response. 1. Before you go down that path, what are your personal values?  What do you value most that you will never compromise?  Develop that list and use it to engage with other investors.  That is, their values need to be in line with yours.  It’s easy to get sucked into the lust

Feb 8Mark Gandy

Snow Days – To Pay or Not to Pay

Feb 8Mark Gandy

During last week’s Missouri blizzard, many businesses were shut down.  State agencies said they would pay employees, but they would either have to take a personal day (or two) or vacation.  Otherwise, no pay. Do you agree? Yes, yes, yes. I agree.  Disagree?  Then read on. Good business leaders teach their employees that jobs are not entitled.  Every job requires results.  So work is about being results-oriented.  The butts-in-seats mentality should be a concept of the past (or never a

Feb 7Mark Gandy

Reflection on the 2011 Missouri Winter Storm

Feb 7Mark Gandy

Finally, I see small patches of ugly, brown grass.  But we made it.  The Missouri blizzard of 2011 will go down in history.  Schools and colleges shut down for at least 3 days.  So were banks and retailers.  Some companies told their employees to stay home. I was reminded of a critical business discipline during this storm.  Afterwards, I asked several businesses how they did.  For example, at the Midway Truck Stop, they were prepared.  The had trucks lined up

Feb 6Mark Gandy

Are Your Systems Hurting Customer Service?

Feb 6Mark Gandy

I took back a couple items to Eddie Bauer the other day.  I didn’t have my customer card–probably threw it away.  Should be no big deal.  I’m a preferred customer at other retailers.  All they need is a last name or phone number. Wrong.  At Eddie Bauer, they needed the last 4 numbers of my Social Security number.  Then they needed something else too.  Plus, the process was long. What should have taken a couple minutes was a 15-minute visit.

Feb 5Mark Gandy

Looking Back on the Big 5-0

Feb 5Mark Gandy

Yesterday (my birthday), I needed directions to a building on campus since I don’t spend that much time at MU. I called my friend J.B. at Inovatia Laboratories, a long-time buddy and client.  He knows everything, and I mean everything. After the first ring, “Happy Birthday, Mark,” said Jennifer, the QA person.  I didn’t even get to say ‘hello’ first.  They knew right away.  How did they know?  How did Jennifer know? A Quick Takeaway What if I had been

Feb 4Mark Gandy

The Counterintuitive CEO – READ IT!

Feb 4Mark Gandy

I read a number of blogs to continually enhance my business and financial intelligence. And here’s one I want you to read.  It’s the Counterintuitive CEO.  Love it.   The blog is written by the CEO of Forrester Research, an independent research company. So yes, much of the content is tech in nature, but it’s very hands-on stuff. My favorite post is CBTO vs. CIO.  Great read.

Feb 3Mark Gandy

Do you have an internet policy?

Feb 3Mark Gandy

If not, why not?  You should.  Or, read on for a better idea. Inc. Magazine estimated $544 billion in employee time-wasting activities back in 2006.  Half the people surveyed stated surfing the internet was their biggest distraction. In 2005, redOrbit estimated $178 billion in employee productivity lost due to internet misuse. Go ahead, do a search and you’ll find hundreds of statistics.  Which ones are accurate?  I don’t know.  But one thing I know.  Employees steal from you every day as they

Feb 2Mark Gandy

Remote Employees Revisited

Feb 2Mark Gandy

The Missouri blizzard of 2011.  What can we learn from it? My first thought was, ‘I sure hope employees can work remotely’.  That’s because many schools, banks, and businesses were shut down.  MU was closed for the second day in a row–a first in it’s history. So you have been resistant to this idea.  You fear losing control.  You fear loss of productivity.  You fear increased costs.  Okay, those are your perceived fears and concerns, but let’s address each one

Feb 1Mark Gandy

Coach or Consultant, Which One?

Feb 1Mark Gandy

Are you inundated with the coaching profession?  I’m talking about the executive coaching industry.  Have you tried a Google search on these words?  Eureka, they are everywhere! Before getting to the point, let’s do some some comparisons between the coach and consultant.  We all know what consultants are.  We hire them for a specialized project for a set period of time at a set price.  The coach, well, they are different.  Instead of explaining, let me try to show you

Jan 30Mark Gandy

Knowing When to Call it Quits

Jan 30Mark Gandy

I hate this topic. Makes me ill even thinking about it. I’ve watched a few businesses go down the tubes, several others almost bust, and a current one that’s on its last breath. Did I say I hate this stuff?  If not, I do. So when do you pull the plug?  Two things come to mind.  My Harvard buddies have a list of 10 or 15, but I’ll spare the academic details.  So here are my top 2: 1. You’ve

Jan 29Mark Gandy

The Daily Huddle

Jan 29Mark Gandy

Love the term, love the concept, love the results.  But no one seems to do it. Several weeks ago, I was getting really frustrated with a certain client situation.  Same old problem day after day after day.  I had all the answers but my message just wasn’t getting through to them. Finally, I made the part of the team start having daily huddles where the core problem would be addressed each morning for about 5 minutes.  The meeting was a stand-up

Jan 28Mark Gandy

5 Key Numbers That Drive a Bottom Line

Jan 28Mark Gandy

When I start working on a new client or do volunteer work for micro businesses, I boil the business down as simply as I can.  And my goal is to nail down 4 to 5 key numbers that drive the bottom line.  Sorry, I can’t share all my secrets, but I’ll give you a little peak below. And for each key number, I nail down some simple strategies for improvement or enhancement. Just do it.  It’s so painfully easy to

Jan 27Mark Gandy

Timely Financial Reporting – What's the Problem?

Jan 27Mark Gandy

You should be reading your financials by the 3rd day of month.  NO EXCUSES! Some of my reporting ranges from 30 to 60 pages.  And every page serves a purpose.  And we get the them done quickly. Need some help?  Use my little grading tool below to assess your financial reporting situation.  Address the problems and fix–it’s so, so easy to do.

Jan 26Mark Gandy

Afraid of Social Media? Then read this …

Jan 26Mark Gandy

I’ve already given away copies of Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crush It! In his book, he talks about taking your passion and building a following around it using today’s social media tools. Vaynerchuk is known for building the biggest online wine business at some $60 million per year (that’s a lot of cases).  He now does the internet TV thing for people that follow the wine industry at Wine Library TV. So in his book, he shares how to build the

Jan 25Mark Gandy

That Crazy Excel Ribbon

Jan 25Mark Gandy

No, I’m not a fan of the ribbon.  You know the one I’m talking about. I loved the older version where I could easily customize the toolbars and even the menus. Yesterday, I was working with an accounting manager and they were searching for the trace precedents function.  It was in the formulas tab.  Weird, shouldn’t it be in the data tab? I went on to explain how to customize the Quick Access Toolbar.  Mine is shown below.  Just right click anywhere

Jan 24Mark Gandy

Great Office Quote

Jan 24Mark Gandy

I love a great quote. Here’s my favorite from last week: “Oh, I’m glad you’re still here.” Brock Gandy on the last thing you want to hear at the end of a long day at the office.  Brock is a second-year accountant at the Little Rock office of BKD, LLP. Yeah, those were the good old days, public accounting. To all public practitioners headed into busy season, all the best to you.  Pace yourselves.

Jan 23Mark Gandy

Super Sunday Almost, What Can we Learn?

Jan 23Mark Gandy

I’m a big fan of Bernie Miklasz, long-time sports columnist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch.  Today, he calls this the best Sunday in football, the conference championship games.  I tend to agree, although last week was fun too. What struck me was his comment about the Rooney family.  Read on: Executives and business owners, what’s the point.  You need great people around you to succeed, to win, to take it to the next level.  Do you have that team?  If

Jan 22Mark Gandy

Are you happy?

Jan 22Mark Gandy

Tonight, after working out, I checked on the ladies.  They were watching Funny Face, the 1957 flick with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire.  I arrived just in time to witness the dance scene between Fred and Audrey. My workout was intense, but I think my face experienced more wincing than 30-plus minutes of muscle confusion and a bike ride hitting 90 percent of my maximum heart rate.  The few minutes of that movie were far more painful than the high-intensity workout.

Jan 21Mark Gandy

Personal Finance for Biz Owners

Jan 21Mark Gandy

You’d think successful business owners and CEOs would have a strong handle on personal finance.  Not true.  Running a business and managing your personal finances are two completely different disciplines and sometimes require habits that are found on opposite ends of the spectrum.  Plus, there are those of you whom continue to live well beyond your means.  And you wonder why you have financial problems at home.  Personally, I hate it.  Yeah, strong language.  But if a biz owner/CEO can’t

Jan 20Mark Gandy

Have you Considered a Marketing Assistant?

Jan 20Mark Gandy

I’ve watched one of my clients carefully since he has hired and trained his new marketing assistant.  The result?  Excellent! Previously, he had a sales professional with bigger-firm experience.  He was very good.  No qualms.  But when he left, there was a marketing void. While my client was successful with drawing more clients with web hits, he still had to field his own calls and close on new business. So a few months ago, he hired a marketing person.  We have

Jan 19Mark Gandy

Misplacing Important Notes and Documents?

Jan 19Mark Gandy

I’ve done my share of traveling the past three months, and I’ve used one of my favorite tools to keep track of traveling itineraries, hotels, frequent air miles, and so on.  In short, I demand a tool with all my critical documents I can access anywhere in the world, 24-7-365.  I’m talking about Backpackit from 37Signals.  I normally use it for client business and creating systems within my businesses.  But now, I’m using it for other activities.  Backpackit is not cheap.  Another

Jan 18Mark Gandy

The Ultimate Off-site Office

Jan 18Mark Gandy

What’s the ideal off-site office?  I think I found mine.  And since I have about 8 acres of woods, this is giving me some ideas. Plumbing could be a problem, however. The rest of the pictures are posted at Flickr.

Jan 15Mark Gandy

The Annual Insurance Review

Jan 15Mark Gandy

The annual insurance review is not just about saving money.  It’s mainly about making sure you are properly insured and balancing risk and cost. Most financial experts lack skill this area.  We are typically more concerned about saving cost.  Not me.  I want to know where I’m not covered and where I may be short on coverage.  Once I know those two things, then I can weigh costs.  So understand the purpose of the annual review. Here are a few more

Jan 14Mark Gandy

Cloud Insurance

Jan 14Mark Gandy

I love working in the cloud.  I’ve been doing it since 2003.  I’ve rarely had problems.  But that’s not the case with some of my clients.  Recently, one of my clients was locked out from the ASP that hosts our general ledger system.  Thankfully, we e-mailed support and they had us up and going within 30 minutes. Scary?  Heck, yes.  But I’ll take the cloud over internal systems any day of the week, especially in small businesses where there’s more unreliability internally

Jan 13Mark Gandy

Three Simple Questions for Your Business

Jan 13Mark Gandy

1. What are you doing to make your business sustainable? 2. What will you do to make your business more durable over the following year? 3. Is your current business model scalable?

Jan 12Mark Gandy

How Not to Review Employees

Jan 12Mark Gandy

Yes, I suppose I’ve selected one of the most controversial topics in the world of human resources. But first, a baseball metaphor.  I love the St. Louis Cardinals.  I remember my first game at Busch Stadium II on Market Street in downtown St. Louis in 1969.   Gibson, Brock, Shannon, and the rest.  My, those were the days. Flash forward to 2010.  We blew it.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda.  But we blew it.  The Reds won the division and they deserved it. 

Jan 11Mark Gandy

Goal Setting Can Be Dangerous to Your Health

Jan 11Mark Gandy

Earlier this year, I was at an event where we had to break into small groupls and share our personal goals. Man, shoot me. Thank goodness we did not hold hands and sing Kum Bah Ya.  Had that happened, this dude would have been out of there pronto. So what’s wrong with goals?  Let’s look at this scenario. Insurance agency sets goal to write so many policies yielding a certain amount of commissions.  That means so many calls.  Meetings.  Lunches.

Jan 10Mark Gandy

Hampton Breakfasts – A Nice Touch

Jan 10Mark Gandy

I love any business that goes that extra mile to serve a customer (or a guest as Disney calls them).  I really like those small touches many may take for granted.  And this is one person that notices. This week, I’m staying at the Hampton.  While waiting for my ride one morning, I noticed guests stopping at the front desk to pick up a sack.  It was a breakfast to go.  Cool.  The Marriot, a nicer and newer facility down the

Jan 9Mark Gandy

No Credit Cards? Idiotic

Jan 9Mark Gandy

Tonight, I dropped by a grocery store to pick up some grub for the week.  Odd, the card terminal asked for a PIN number.  Weird.  My VISA never asks for a PIN. “We don’t take credit cards, just cash or debit cards,” said the checker. What?  It’s 2011.  You’ve got to be kidding. Thankfully I had cash.  I’ll never go back. So why don’t they take credit cards?  Let’s guess.  It has to do with 2.2%.  That’s the approximate discount

Jan 8Mark Gandy

Lost in the Parking Lot

Jan 8Mark Gandy

Remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George couldn’t find their car in the parking garage?  Well, that was me one evening when a shuttle bus dropping me off at an airport parking lot.  I walked for 20 minutes. I wrote it down–the lot number and slot that is.  But I couldn’t find the pad I wrote it on.  Never, never, never again.  Here’s how I fixed the problem.  I still wrote it down.  But I did something

Jan 7Mark Gandy

Never Do This in QuickBooks

Jan 7Mark Gandy

I’m not the biggest fan of Intuit’s QuickBooks, but I don’t have time to write a book about my frustrations with this mom-and-pop bookkeeping system.  But if you use it, never, never, delete transactions.  Never!! Instead, void the transactions.  And do this as well–document what the original dollar amount was in the memo section.  Why?  Serves as a great audit trail.  Trust me on this one as always, I’m right.

Jan 6Mark Gandy

One More Reason I Love My Clients

Jan 6Mark Gandy

The other day, one of my clients was seeking advice on CRM solutions.  I suggested a SaaS-based solution and a PC version.  But I also knew another client went down this same path a few months earlier. So I asked the other client if they would field a call from the client looking for the new CRM solution.  They said, “Of course.” So my client seeking the new CRM called my other client and the discussion turned out to be very helpful.

Jan 5Mark Gandy

Want your employees to change?

Jan 5Mark Gandy

Start with the heart. My favorite book in 2010 was Switch by the Heath brothers.  Loved it.  I’ll read it again this year and I’ll listen to the audio version too. I bring this up because they had a great article in Fast Company this month.  A business owner was frustrated that he couldn’t get his staff to max out their 401k plans. So at the annual 401k enrollment meeting, he brought a bag full of money and poured it on

Jan 4Mark Gandy

Project Over Budget — So what says Tom Peters

Jan 4Mark Gandy

Think of the last project you completed this past year.  Over budget?  Under?  If it went over, how did it impact cash flow?  Did it matter once the project was done?  I stumbled upon this quick video from Tom Peters regarding this subject.  Fascinating.  

Jan 3Mark Gandy

Churchill and S&OP

Jan 3Mark Gandy

So was Churchill an early adopter of sales and operations planning?  I’ve been reading Paul Johnson’s short biography on Churchill, and I especially found one passage about his life during the first world war when he was minister of munitions very interesting. In a short time of fanatical hard work Churchill made it simple, logical, and efficient.  He forged a close link with the front to ensure the troops got exactly the right weapons and ammunition they wanted, in the right

Jan 2Mark Gandy

37signals and the Power of NO

Jan 2Mark Gandy

I’ve been a fan of 37 signals for quite some time now.  If you have not heard of them, they publish web collaboration tools where you can manage projects, contacts, information, and communicate in real time.  I’ve used all their tools and BackPack is by far my favorite.  I use it for business and personal use.  I’ll never let go of it. I especially like reading their Q&A directed to other 37signals users.  On those forums, you’ll find many questions,

Jan 1Mark Gandy

Make Everyday be Saturday

Jan 1Mark Gandy

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.  You are wrong. Why is it that Saturday is your most productive day when you come to the office for a few hours? 1. No phone calls 2. No e-mails 3. No interruptions So think about it.  Why not bring a little Saturday into every day of the week? Here’s how.  Make every week day be a Saturday for just one hour.  Shut the door.  Let your office manager know you are not taking

Dec 31Mark Gandy

3 Purpose Statements for 2011 and Beyond

Dec 31Mark Gandy

Try answering the following and keep the answers nearby.   1. I exist to … 2. My business exists to … 3. My closest relationships and I exist to … I dare you. The results will be amazing.

Dec 29Mark Gandy

Getting Stuff Done, It's Not that Hard

Dec 29Mark Gandy

This morning, I met with a couple energetic business people wanting to start a new business venture.  Near the end, I had one of them pull out a scratch piece of paper and make a tri-fold.  For each section, I had them make column headings as such: What Who When We kept the list to about 3 or 4 items. Setting priorities and acting.  It’s that simple.

Dec 28Mark Gandy

Building Your 2011 Scenarios

Dec 28Mark Gandy

When cranking out those financial projections for 2011, don’t forget building in 2 to 3 scenarios.  I typically build three: 1. Best case (which is still possible where all assumptions hold true) 2. Bankable (we hit these no matter what) 3. Gloom and Doom (we miss our most important targets by 5 to 10 percent You need to do this so you can plan your cash accordingly over the next year.  I know it seems obvious, but many SME’s just

Dec 27Mark Gandy

A Few Tax Breaks

Dec 27Mark Gandy

Here are a few of the new tax rules passed this month: √  The new tax law raises bonus depreciation to 100 percent for qualified assets.  This is for the period September 8, 2010 through December 31, 2010.  After that, bonus depreciation drops to 50 percent. √  The research tax credit is renewed for 2010 and remains in place through 2011. √  The Work Opportunity Tax Credit remains through 2011.  It’s worth 40 percent of the first $6,000 in wages for

Dec 26Mark Gandy

The Best Christmas Gift for your Accounting Staff

Dec 26Mark Gandy

The first thing I have the accounting staff purchase is a second monitor after I start working with a new client. I’ve been using dual monitors since 2004.  I even take a second monitor with me when I hit the road.  Working with just one is painful. If you use a laptop, just plug it in, make a small setting change in Windows, and you are ready to rock n’ roll. If you use a PC, you’ll need a video card

Dec 25Mark Gandy

Believe

Dec 25Mark Gandy

On Christmas Eve, I watched Polar Express with the family. One of the core themes in this heart-warming film was believing. As I was watching this, I started wondering what I believe in. I still believe in the sanctity of the family–one mom, one dad, and children they dearly love. The family, the oldest institution since the dawn of mankind, gives birth to business leaders all over the world. And I believe it will continue to do so in spite

Dec 23Mark Gandy

Christmas Toys, Lego, and Being Sustainable

Dec 23Mark Gandy

Remember some of your favorite Christmas toys as a kid?  Mine were G.I. Joe, Lego blocks, and train sets.  Odd.  That’s nearly the same list for my kids a generation later. On the other hand, whatever happened to Pong?  Or Cabbage Patch Dolls? Some toys have stood the test of time.  Others were here one day, gone the next. I’m still amazed at Lego and their longevity.  The toy came out around 1950.  When I was a kid, they were fun,

Dec 22Mark Gandy

How's Your Sales Pipeline?

Dec 22Mark Gandy

Bulging?  Slim?  Bottlenecks?  Consistent and steady?  Too much? I’ll keep it short and to the point with just a few questions. 1. Do you have a process for managing the sales pipeline? 2. Do you set targets or objectives for keeping the pipeline full at all times? 3. Do you have a system for evaluating your close rates with steps to improve the performance? 4. Do you have tools to support and manage the customers you ultimately sell to? 5.

Dec 21Mark Gandy

RKV Technologies and the Spirit of Giving

Dec 21Mark Gandy

Yesterday, I witnessed what great companies with great leaders do for great organizations whose mission is to help others. Several weeks ago, Bob Myers, CEO of RKV Technologies (RKV) of Jefferson City asked his employees to support the Ronald McDonald House of Columbia, Missouri (RMHC).  Specifically, the money would be earmarked for the new playground at RMHC’s new facility they are hoping to build in the foreseeable future. I was amazed when I saw the check.  $15,000.  And so were Shannon de

Dec 20Mark Gandy

The Annual Christmas Tree

Dec 20Mark Gandy

Each weekend before Christmas, my kids and I head over to Tannenbaum Farm in Howard County, Missouri.  This farm provides the Governor’s Mansion their tree each year. Besides enjoying the experience, what goes through the mind of a CFO when buying and selecting a Christmas tree?  Business model.  Initial investment.  Operating expenses.  Cash flow. I visited at length with Clell Solomon, long-time owner of the farm.  Here’s what I learned from him. 1. You can grow about 1,000 trees per

Dec 19Mark Gandy

Tried Being Your Own Customer?

Dec 19Mark Gandy

I dare you to do this.  You may hate it.  And if you do, fix it. A few weeks ago, I wanted to do something special for Brock and his wife Julya.  They love pizza, so pizza it was, on me.  The strategy was for me to call Pizza Hut in Little Rock, pay by credit card, and have the kids pick it up.  Pretty simple stuff, right?  At least it works that way when I do the same thing

Dec 18Mark Gandy

Is Commerical Loan Growth a Leading Indicator?

Dec 18Mark Gandy

I’m always searching for leading indicators that help me understand the national economy.  I periodically look at disposable income and consumer spending.  It makes sense if those indicators are ticking upward, then GNP should be on the rise. Recently, I was studying some graphs at the www.stlouisfed.com website.  Specifically, I was looking at a chart showing all commercial and industrial loans at all commercial banks since 1940.  Then I squeezed the chart to focus on the past twelve months.  The picture is pretty revealing, but

Dec 17Mark Gandy

Would You Read a Book About Your Own Business?

Dec 17Mark Gandy

So if you wrote a book about your own business, what would it say?  Better yet, would it be worth reading?  Would other business owners want to read it?  Would you be proud enough to promote the book on the home page of your website?  That’s exactly what SEI Express, Inc. did–they wrote a book and they allow surfers like me to read it online.  I loved it. It also reminds me of one of my favorite clients that is

Dec 16Mark Gandy

How a Growing Business is like Stock

Dec 16Mark Gandy

As I left the office of a client this week, I asked what he thought about the past year.  While he was pleased, I reminded him about the end game.  Harvesting the annual profits the past few years has been good.  But what about tomorrow? I mentioned that his business is like a dividend-paying stock.  The cash rolls in consistently just like his company’s profits.  But ultimately, we want the return of our investment plus a return on that investment

Dec 15Mark Gandy

Breaking Barriers in Your Business

Dec 15Mark Gandy

Yesterday, I drove to lunch with two sales reps whose combined sales commissions were more than $2 million a year earlier.  No, that’s not a typo. But both reps started at rock bottom.  One of them told me they hit $80,000 in year 1, and about $200,000 by year two.  Beyond year three or four, he broke the $1,000,000 mark in commissions. Reminds me of Roger Bannister who broke the 4:00 mile in 1954.  For years, runners tried to best

Dec 13Mark Gandy

The Ongoing Employee Dilemma

Dec 13Mark Gandy

Marketing. Hard. Keeping up with the competition.  Really hard. Innovation.  Sometimes impossible. Yes, marketing, competition, and innovation are never easy.  But I’d have to say the number one problem I hear over and over again has something to do with staff or staffing.  The UNIVERSAL law that exists which reveals every person (past, current, and future) is imperfect explains why people issues will always be a thorn to the business owner. I don’t have the solution, but I do have

Dec 12Mark Gandy

My Favorite 2010 Tax Stategy

Dec 12Mark Gandy

I’m sure you have been talking with your CPA about ways to minimize your taxes this year. One of may favorites is converting your SEP, IRA, or 401k to a Roth.  And I really like this strategy if you have business losses to offset the taxes that will be triggered if you make this move. You still have time to discuss this with your accountant.  One of my clients is doing this and believes it will save him in the

Dec 11Mark Gandy

Two of the Greatest Business Words

Dec 11Mark Gandy

Thank you. A few days ago, I was talking to a very young, soon-to-be CPA who works for a Top 10 accounting firm.  When I asked how everything was going, I was intrigued at one of the first things he mentioned. He stated he and a partner had been working in the field together–just the two.  At the end of each day, he said the partner said, “Thank you.”  And according to the young accountant, he meant it. He went

Dec 10Mark Gandy

Audits – The Cost Picture is Worth a Million Words

Dec 10Mark Gandy

I only wish I had a dollar for each time I’ve explained the difference between a compilation and an audit.  Don’t get me started on the review. Compilations are worthless, although that’s what I push for to replace full-scope audits.  And therein lies the answer to explaining audits, reviews, and compilations to business owners. You only need to know one thing.  Cost.  And that includes the wasted overhead to prep for the audit.  So I will not bore you with

Dec 9Mark Gandy

PEOs – Know the Key Number

Dec 9Mark Gandy

When shopping for a PEO, obviously you want to make sure you have a proper match with your company–that’s a given. When it comes to price, I always find that PEO firms quote the full rate they charge on your invoice.  Every time, I have to have them strip out the payroll taxes, work comp rates if applicable, and any benefits they quote.  Finally, I get the number I need to know.  Sometimes, they will call it their admin rate. 

Dec 8Mark Gandy

The Strengths of the Amish Business Community

Dec 8Mark Gandy

As a youngster, I grew up in Madison, Missouri.  I know, I know.  Some people in nearby, bigger towns say we’re still Velcro challenged.  There’s a rumor that the business owners think Dun & Bradstreet is a major intersection on the south-end of town. One of my fond memories was a neighboring Amish community.  And to this day, when I think ‘Amish’, I think strong core values, community, quality, and doing the job right the first time.  Great products and

Dec 7Mark Gandy

Sales Commissions – Good or Bad?

Dec 7Mark Gandy

I have one client who owns two businesses.  In one case, the three-person sales team is on straight salary.  Yet, all three are motivated to sell.  In the second, but smaller company, the sales person is paid a lower salary, but he receives a commission on sales. Which compensation structure is right?  Which one is wrong?  Which one motivates? I know the pros and cons on both sides, and I’m somewhere in the middle.  I suppose when I run my own company

Dec 6Mark Gandy

WikiLeaks – Is there a lesson for CEOs?

Dec 6Mark Gandy

Unless you live on another planet, you’ve been hearing much about the Wikileaks access and subsequent disclosure of secret US documents.  And this wasn’t even the first time they have done this. As I watched this story unfold over the past few days, I couldn’t help but thinking about confidentiality in the workplace. How do you know if your employees are not sharing sensitive information about your company with unauthorized thirds parties?  What steps have you taken to minimize this

Dec 5Mark Gandy

What Happened to My Sales? Try Causal Analysis

Dec 5Mark Gandy

Way too often, I’m exposed to deficient reporting that tells me absolutely nothing about how a business is performing. Take the excerpt from this simple independent software developer.  Here’s what is typically thrown at us: Sales are up 17.9%.  Let’s celebrate.  Not me.  At least not yet.  I need to know why sales are up.  I still need more detail. Thankfully, my CFO brings me another view of this information. Well, this helps a little.  At least I can see

Dec 4Mark Gandy

Christmas Bonuses, Don’t

Dec 4Mark Gandy

2. We begin to expect it, and finally Already, I’ve had several owners ask me about Christmas bonuses. How much? How to justify the amount? What if someone feels slighted? First, no Christmas bonuses. None. Never again. Here’s why. When you give a bonus at the same time each and every year, people by human nature begin to take it for granted. Try skipping the annual bonus for one year and see what happens. They will get mad or very

Dec 3Mark Gandy

Customer Surveys, Why?

Dec 3Mark Gandy

As I finish the last steps to moving into my new Taj Mahal (rather, my new office), one of my last requirements was getting a new mail box set up.  I chose a nearby UPS Store.  I’ve been a customer of these stores for years and I’ve always liked the friendly service as well as getting in and out quickly. That was no exception at store 1067 owned by Louise Carey.  Fast, easy, clean, friendly.  Well, there was one thing I

Dec 2Mark Gandy

Does your website make the grade?

Dec 2Mark Gandy

Periodically, I like to learn about my clients’ competitors–what are they doing that we don’t do?  Where do they excel?  Where are they weak?  Are they better, or are we? I also look at every page on their websites.  If they blog, I read every word they write.  And, I want to know if they are getting traction on that site.  To do so, I use www.websitegrader.com.  SEO geeks use the Google tools, but I like this site. To explain,

Dec 1Mark Gandy

Sales mistakes, what's your error rate?

Dec 1Mark Gandy

Earlier this year I read the best marketing book I’ve ever picked up.  I couldn’t put it down, and I read it in one sitting.  Short, easy read, extremely practical.  The book is Reality Marketing Revolution by Eric Keiles and Mike Lieberman. So when I get their eNewsletter, I read it the way I read Seth Godin’s blogs–every single word. Last week they published results from their readers asking if they are guilty of certain sales mistakes.  Some of the

Nov 30Mark Gandy

Directv Earns High Praise from this CFO

Nov 30Mark Gandy

I love great products and service–as a customer and especially for my clients. When my clients offer a great service, that means more cash, more profits, and a brand that keeps getting better and better. This CFO lives where no man has gone before.  I live in the middle of nowhere.  My nearest town has a population of roughly 180.  My next nearest town boarders the Missouri River with a population of 1,200.  And the home of my mailing address is pushing

Nov 29Mark Gandy

Top Industries in 2010

Nov 29Mark Gandy

Below is a fascinating analysis of the top industries of 2010.  The source is www.anythingresearch.com.  No surprises, except for maybe one.  Barber shops are the highest fragmented industry.  I thought law firms, CPA firms, and general contractors would head the list.  Not so. Do you have start-up fever?  While translation services cracks Inc. magazine’s top ten, the rest of the list can be found at their website. [TABLE=2]

Nov 28Mark Gandy

Assessing your fundraising performance

Nov 28Mark Gandy

It’s that time of year again.  Lots of requests for your money.  And I’m guessing many of those letters go right to the Deep-Six file. Even non-profits need tools to determine if they are winning or losing. I’m not a non-profit expert, but I do believe in a framework as outlined by James Greenfield who wrote Fund-Raising Cost Effectiveness: A Self-Assessment Workbook.  Below is a simple scorecard based on the nine-point performance index. The most important part of this scorecard

Nov 27Mark Gandy

Wish everyday could be Black Friday?

Nov 27Mark Gandy

Yeah, wouldn’t that be great? Just imagine for a minute what your life would be like if that were the case. However, steady, planned, and constant growth should be the norm in your company.  If fact, there is no reason why you cannot be growing 15% per year, even in this economy. And for starters, here are some quick ideas: 1. Internally, study your lead to close ratio over the past six months.  Track it monthly.  Is it constant?  Does

Nov 25Mark Gandy

William Bradford – Great Man, Great Leader

Nov 25Mark Gandy

I cherish my personal library, and many of those books are special.  While it’s a reprint, one of my favorite titles is Of Plymouth Plantation.  Essentially, it’s the 40-something-year diary of William Bradford, the long-time governor of the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts. Bradford was one of the original colonists that migrated from Europe to the new world on the Mayflower.  No, they weren’t pilgrims.  They were called separatists.  And no, they didn’t come to the colonies to escape religious persecution in

Nov 24Mark Gandy

One Big Reason this Missouri CFO is Thankful

Nov 24Mark Gandy

Everyone has a bad day.  No one is immune.  Not even Mr. Rogers. Give in or fight it?  I have a better solution.  Gratitude.  Being thankful. Several years ago, I was wiped while working on financial due diligence for an M&A gig I was working on.  It was 2:00 p.m., the day before a major holiday.  I had not eaten lunch yet and I desperately needed a break.  And ‘brake’ I did (you’ll find out what I mean in a

Nov 23Mark Gandy

Missouri Scores Low in Entrepreneurial Activity

Nov 23Mark Gandy

I was recently reading the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity which was last updated in May.  According to their research, entrepreneurial activity reached a 14-year high in 2009 where 340 out of every 100,000 adults created a new business each month. And how did Missouri rank?  Not well.  The graph below shows how Missouri compares to the top state each year along with the lowest ranking state. According to the data, Missouri’s highest index was in 1996 when 340 adults

Nov 22Mark Gandy

Embezzlement in Missouri – Fighting Back

Nov 22Mark Gandy

I’m guessing about monthly, I read about an employee fraud story where thousands have been stolen from their employer.  And then I wonder how many employees are stealing that have not been caught.  A few?  Many? During my early days at KPMG Peat Marwick (St. Louis), we were taught the reasons people steal: -1- A financial need exists -2- The opportunity exists -3- And the illegal action is rationalized in the employee’s mind And interestingly enough, my first audit job

Nov 21Mark Gandy

Your Biz and the Future Sale of the Houston Astros

Nov 21Mark Gandy

Turns out an investment in a major league baseball team may not be that shabby after all.  The owner of the Houston Astros is wanting to sell his team which he bought for about $120 million in 1992.  At a minimum, he sells for $425 million.  At the most, he garners close to $600 million.  Not bad. As I was reading the Yahoo! story about this, I was reminded of some parallels to selling a small to mid-sized business.  Here

Nov 20Mark Gandy

Yes, Take those Vendor Discounts

Nov 20Mark Gandy

How would you like it if I guaranteed you nearly 37% on your investment?  No strings attached–just a little discipline. While so elementary, I take vendor discounts for granted.  Absolutely, take them.  And yes, if it means using your prime-based LOC to take the discount, do it because your spread can still be as high as 30% on an effective annual rate (see table below). And is there a time not to take the discount?  At 1/10 net 45 or 60, it’s a close

Nov 19Mark Gandy

Why IKEA Lost my Business – In Missouri

Nov 19Mark Gandy

I’m in the process of moving my global headquarters to a new location in Columbia, Mo. Accordingly, I got to do my favorite thing in life which ranks right up there with root canals–buy furniture. OK, OK, it wasn’t that bad.  In fact, I was looking forward to enhancing my desk arrangement because I’m obsessed with efficiency and order.  And that’s exactly why I was smitten with some furniture pieces at IKEA.  So this week, I was ready to pay

Nov 18Mark Gandy

Brick and Mortar and Ecommerce

Nov 18Mark Gandy

Yesterday, I purchased about $150 of gadgets for my Asus laptop at Staples.  Big deal?  It was because I normally shop at Office Depot. Yesterday after dropping Drew off at Heritage Academy, I scooted over to Office Depot.  It was about 7:45 a.m.  They normally open at 7:30 a.m. Closed.  Were my days mixed up?  Was it really Sunday?  Did that mean I made a mistake in dropping my kid off at school (along with the other parents I saw

Nov 17Mark Gandy

Simple Problem Solving

Nov 17Mark Gandy

“FIRST, get the cow out of the ditch. SECOND, find out how the cow got into the ditch. THIRD, make sure you do whatever it takes so the cow doesn’t go into the ditch again.” Pearls of wisdom from Anne Mulcahy, the former boss of Xerox. A few days ago, one of my clients was voicing his dissatisfaction about a customer not paying their bill.  The problem–we didn’t take the time to clear all lien waivers from our subs.  Ouch!

Nov 16Mark Gandy

Want to be like Steve Jobs? You Can

Nov 16Mark Gandy

Generally, I dread going to seminars or conferences.  That’s because I have to tolerate a day or two of awful speaking along with those agonizing PowerPoints.  A word for attorneys–quit using PowerPoint.  They look like my old commercial law books scrunched up in 30 or 40 slides with hundreds of bullet points.  Shoot me.  Put me out of my misery.  I’d rather go to a Cubs game. OK, so I’m exaggerating a little bit.  So what’s the point?  When you

Nov 15Mark Gandy

Receivables Factoring – Just the Basics

Nov 15Mark Gandy

A few days ago, I ran into a new financial concept–reverse factoring.  I have to confess, I didn’t know what that was.  I had a guess, but I had never encountered it. Thankfully, I know someone I highly trust in the factoring industry.  His name is Scott Brown of Charter Capital.  And many thanks to friend and fellow partner Johnny Gates for introducing him to me. Since Scott answered my question, I thought I’d take advantage of a recent e-mail

Nov 12Mark Gandy

Marketing in Columbia, Missouri

Nov 12Mark Gandy

My second-favorite people metric is number of new ideas per employee, per month. During my Friday morning drive to the global offices of Traxia today, I probably watched 10 to 15 ad messages–on the back of a truck.  I know, I know.  You see this all the time in New York or LA.  Remember, I’m in cow-town Missouri (which I love), so we don’t see this sort of thing just every day. Seriously, here’s the point.  This was someone’s great idea

Nov 11Mark Gandy

Are you a Cloud User? Then Check This Out

Nov 11Mark Gandy

I enjoy scanning the blog over at www.joelonsoftware.com. That’s where I found this neat site to ask questions on any web application at http://webapps.stackexchange.com. Already, I’ve found answers to some of the following: What’s the best app for collaboration in a startup?  Bad but unavoidable websites Where can I buy a local phone number? How can I delete my Twitter account?

Nov 8Mark Gandy

The One Page Business Model – Can you do it?

Nov 8Mark Gandy

When I start working with a new client, I have a very, very, short period of time to learn their business–their business model.  I typically start with revenue and work backwards.  Sometimes I flowchart the biz model, other times, it’s just raw notes, and in all cases, I build an extremely simple profit model that shows me how the money flows. Well, this book nails it.  I plan on using my own format, but this book hits a home run for

Nov 5Mark Gandy

A Few Key Numbers in Retail

Nov 5Mark Gandy

 I’m still taken back by a comment made in the book Financial Intelligence published by the Harvard Business School Press.  Here’s the quote: Some years ago, a simple financial literacy test was given to directors of various Fortune 500 companies.  They got an average of 32% of the questions right. That’s pathetic.  According to the same book, there are three benefits to financial literacy: 1. Increased ability to evaluate the company 2. better understanding of the bias in numbers 3.

Nov 4Mark Gandy

WIKI – Every Company Should have One

Nov 4Mark Gandy

Regardless of size, every single company should have a corporate WIKI (you know, as in the world’s online encyclopedia at www.wikipedia.com). I hear these questions regularly at my clients: How do we do that? How many sick days do we get? I need to see which vendors we use for our operating supplies.  Where is this list? What’s the policy on write-offs? The answer is simple.  Look on your corporate WIKI.  At a minimum, your corporate WIKI should include: 1.

Nov 3Mark Gandy

The Briefcase of Just a Small-town CFO

Nov 3Mark Gandy

Today, I take a break from writing to the greatest CEOs and entrepreneurs in the world to write to my fellow partners. You see, most of our partners work in large cities.  Many want to know what it’s like to be a country CFO. Today, I’ll help answer that question by showing my fellow partners what a small-town CFO uses for his briefcase. Yum!

Nov 2Mark Gandy

Build it and They Will Come – Startups, that's wrong

Nov 2Mark Gandy

This is probably the conservative accountant speaking, but the biggest mistake I have found that startups make is that they build it hoping they, the customers, will come. Shouldn’t startups determine if they will come before building the new product and service?  Unless you’re Apple, Google, or a very deep pocket, I think so.  They can afford to build demand, you cannot. And here’s the problem.  Passion, zeal, enthusiasm, and unbridled excitement kick in without validating whether a sizable market exists. 

Nov 1Mark Gandy

My Favorite Business Story of All Time – Toilet Paper

Nov 1Mark Gandy

Great business stories and toilet paper.  Yep, they go hand in hand. Many years ago, Dennis Karstens, the President of Orschlen Farm and Home at the time, gave me a book he didn’t want–The Great Game of Business, by Jack Stack.  His loss, my huge gain. That was nearly 20 years ago, and to this day, it’s one of my favorite business books.  In fact, it’s in my top 5 that every CEO should read. And in that book contains a really neat story about

Oct 31Mark Gandy

3 Words You Need to Know to Sell Your Business

Oct 31Mark Gandy

Teachable.  Valuable.  Repeatable. Those are the three key attributes you need for your business whether you sell a product or a service according to John Warrillow, author of Built to Sell.  Good book, quick read. Take a look at the video where he talks about this with my favorite growth guru, Verne Harnish:

Oct 29Mark Gandy

No, Health Insurance is Not Taxed in 2011

Oct 29Mark Gandy

One newsletter I look forward to reading on a regular basis is the one published by Bob Jennings of Jennings Seminars (an absolutely fantastic tax seminar speaker … and more on this in a minute). In his last newsletter, Mr. Jennings clarified (and many thanks for doing this) that health insurance paid by employers WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED employee earnings that are taxed in 2011. Instead, it can be added to the employee’s W-2 for information only on a volunteer

Oct 29Mark Gandy

Can Your Gross Margin be too High?

Oct 29Mark Gandy

Yeah, I think so. Looks like my local Break Time is working a tad tooooooo hard to bolster their margins.  And no, I’m not their CFO, so I certainly did not suggest this.  But my advice to them would be that they are sacrificing turnover for the higher margin. Joe Gaboury over at Traxia, thanks for sending this pic. I look forward to seeing this on Leno.

Oct 28Mark Gandy

Do You Have a Social Media Strategy?

Oct 28Mark Gandy

Time.  Not enough of it. That seems to be the biggest problem when it comes to marketing in cyberspace.  Over the past year or so, I’ve either been directly or indirectly involved in the website creation process or the overhaul of an archaic system.  But when it comes to maximizing the value of the content on the site, that’s where my clients hit a wall. Why?  First, we’re not trained in such matters (such as integrating the site with Facebook,

Oct 27Mark Gandy

What is Integrity?

Oct 27Mark Gandy

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the business books I had my kids read when they were teens (Drew is still on my reading program).  The stinkers–they left out one of the business classics: On the Waters of the World by Robert Flood. Anytime I think about integrity or hear the word, I think of the Meloon family.  They founded the ski boat company called Correct Craft sometime in the 1920s or 1930s. They were pioneers in their industry and some 3,000

Oct 26Mark Gandy

Two Critical Questions in Prepping for 2011

Oct 26Mark Gandy

This past week I worked in South Central Washington.  Wow!! I love the lanscape.  So open. Vast.  I love the mountains, although Bill calls them nubs.  And the way farmers have developed the land for orchards and vineyards is truly a sight to see. At left is a picture from my hotel room overlooking the Columbia River.  Each morning, I stepped out my patio door to look at this beautiful God-created river.  Lewis and Clark were once closer to their destination at the

Oct 25Mark Gandy

The Recession is Finally Here – I've Been Hit

Oct 25Mark Gandy

Yeah, I’m speechless. Here’s what happened. I’ve been staying in the Hampton in South Central Washington.  I never like to carry money with me, especially change (don’t ask … I’m not even sure myself). So every morning, I leave my change on the table where I work at night.  Every night, the change is there, not that I’m keeping track (I always delegated petty cash recons to somebody else when I was a controller). But then it happened the night

Oct 24Mark Gandy

Marketing 101 – It's Not that Hard

Oct 24Mark Gandy

Unfortunately, I’m extremely left-brain dominant.  Can’t help it.  Guess my mom drop me on the right side of my head when I was born. Maybe that’s why I enjoy reading and learning about marketing.  I especially like hanging out with really creative marketing geeks.  Man, they’re so, so idea driven. But as I step back, my left-brain mindset kicks in.  Marketing isn’t just about glitz and glamor.  Bottom line, it’s about getting noticed.  Period.  When that happens, the message, the

Oct 22Mark Gandy

A Low-cost Growth Tool

Oct 22Mark Gandy

I love tools that either help my clients grow or that take their B game to an A game. And while I love technology, one of my favorite growth tools is a simple dry erase board.  CEOs, listen up.  Everyone of you should have a large dry erase board in your office, and two if you have the space. Man, I’ve had some awesome discussions around these boards over the years with CEOs and their key management teams. Here’s what

Oct 18Mark Gandy

Dashboard of the Week

Oct 18Mark Gandy

Except for the dashboards (and I don’t even like to use that term) I create for my clients, most financial dashboards are just stupidly ridiculous.  One friend of mine calls them ‘eye candy’.  And that’s being kind. Here’s an example of what I mean.  Man, this is terrible (by the way, this is from Stephen Few’s website www.perceptualedge.com): This is a mess.  What’s the main point?  My eye wants to gravitate to the middle, but the most important information should

Oct 17Mark Gandy

The "T" in Threats and Harrisburg, MO

Oct 17Mark Gandy

Harrisburg, Missouri.  Population 184, give or take a couple.  That doesn’t take into consideration the population growth when social security checks arrive at the first of the month.  That’s when folks turn out by the dozens at the corner grocer. A few days ago, I was traveling on Highway 124 (a buck says it’s on Google Maps).  Thankfully I was paying attention and had my eyes on the road.  As I came up on a hill, there sat a three-ton truck

Oct 16Mark Gandy

Zappos, Poker, and Business Strategy

Oct 16Mark Gandy

Business number one.  Start LinkExchange in 1996.  Sell to Microsoft in 1998 for $265 million.  Cool. Business number two. Get involved with Zappos in 1999.  Grow sales to $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually within 10 years.  Sell business number two valued at more than $1.2 billion.  Really, really cool. A few weeks ago, I read Delivering Happiness by one of the founders of Zappos, Tony Hsieh while traveling to Pasco, Washington.  Fun read, great stories, and also a

Oct 15Mark Gandy

What Were You Thinking?

Oct 15Mark Gandy

OMG!!  Can I say that?  Or will I get slapped with the NC-17 rating? For non-sports fans, here’s the scoop.  Famous athlete loses lots of money in a deal that is absolutely a “sure thing”. Well, I don’t know the facts, although I wish I did. Oddly, I asked Derek at a business meal today why Elway did this.  His opinion was the same.  Derek also used the ‘G’ word (I can’t say it because it would be judgmental without knowing the

Oct 14Mark Gandy

The GAP, Logos, and Brands

Oct 14Mark Gandy

The big business news last week was Gap Inc. changing its logo.  Lots of consumer criticism.  So what?  Then again, I’m a financial geek that’s left-brain dominant, so my skills of right-brain creativity are limited. But still, does it matter?  To the Gap, it did.  As you’ve heard by now, they are back to the old logo.  The critics won. But I’m still baffled.  Would a logo change in the long-term impact the sustainability of its cash flows?  Does a

Oct 6Mark Gandy

The Big, Fat Smoker and Change

Oct 6Mark Gandy

The last thing the fat smoker needs to hear is that he’s, well, big and fat.  He knows he needs to change and knows he’ll live longer, be healthier, and even feel much better. But there are a few stumbling blocks.  Pain.  Discipline.  New habits.  The short-term pain exceeds the long-term benefits. Reminds me of business.  Executives know they need to change, but don’t do it for the same reasons of the fat smoker. Accordingly, I appreciate a recent newsletter article by

Oct 5Mark Gandy

The Science Behind Good Ideas

Oct 5Mark Gandy

One of my favorite bloggers is Fred Wilson over at www.avc.com. He posted a great blog about Steven Johnson and his new book, Where Good Ideas Come From. Below is the video he showed in that blog entry–great stuff.