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  • Are You Creating a Successful Business?

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    An important part of a successful business is meaningful, regular communication with your banker. This dialog centers around a budget and first quarter review. Why, you ask? Let me share a quick analogy.

    Picture this . . . its summer vacation.  A family heads off to French Lick (after all, they are good Hoosiers and want to keep their money here in the state!) to enjoy all that vacation has to offer them once they arrive.  As they begin the trip they realize that their primary route is closed due to construction.   The family has no GPS, no paper map, and due to a dead iPhone, they can’t even rely on that technology.  Without any of those tools, they are unsure how to handle the numerous detours, and unforeseen circumstances.  Businesses are just like this family; issues arise that may change the planned course or destination. Without a good map or GPS (a budget and a plan), the business may become unsteady or lose focus on how to reach their destination (business goal).

    What is the business’ plan?  As one of my colleagues says, those who are living off the bottom line will continue to succeed, those that are living off the top line . . .  well, it isn’t as pretty.  So, what can a business person do?   Consider the following steps:

    1. Put a good annual plan into place.
    2. Know where you want the business to go and figure out the mile makers with which you will measure progress
    3. Determine the resources needed to accomplish this plan
    4. Communicate with your CPA, attorney, insurance agent and business banker - help them understand your desired outcome. 

    At the end of the first quarter you may be saying, “Chris, it’s too late, we already are three plus months into the year, we can’t do that now.”  Or maybe the statement is “we put our budget in place, we are one-fourth of the way through the year and we are ‘knocking it out of the park’ we don’t need to worry.”  My response to the first statement is this - it is NEVER too late to budget and plan.  My reaction to the second statement is, “Congratulations! Now, what else can you do to enjoy your trip and ensure you remain on course?” 

    It is never too late to plan your trip and it is never too late to plan for unforeseen circumstances.  Is your trip a bottom line or a top line trip?  If it is the latter, now is the time to consider changing direction and switch to a bottom line perspective.  And if you have questions, make sure that you include your banker in that discussion.  We want to help you live a better life and succeed, because when our clients do well, MutualBank succeeds too.

  • Businesses: I'm Talking To You!

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    New Year’s Resolutions... nope, I don’t subscribe to them.  I also don’t subscribe to fad diets (although there are times when I should), the latest fashions, or much else that seem to be the latest topics, trends, or crazes.  However, what I do believe is necessary and appropriate is to use the calendar as a good benchmark for various aspects of life.  Spring and Fall time changes are good reminders to change the batteries in the smoke detector.  Anniversaries are a good time to reflect and make a special effort to thank that special person for putting up with me.  Well you get the idea...

    And, this is the time of year that I encourage our lending team to get out and talk to our clients and vice-versa.  Businesses traditionally are ramping up for the year and looking forward.  They are thinking about meeting with their CPA.  They are looking at the year ahead and trying to determine what sales goals are for the year.  And it is at this time of the year that bankers should be taking the time to visit with their clients.  Here is a list of conversation topics that your banker needs to be having with you (who initiates the conversation is not as important as having it).

    • How do you (the business owner) think 2011 will end up and why? (Did revenue go up, down or sideways?  What kind of bottom line do you expect and why? )
    • What are your 2012 expectations – where do you see this year differing from last and why?
    • Major acquisitions of fixed assets (equipment, real estate) on the horizon?  What will that do for the company (does it make sense to invest hard earned money into something – will it make the company more efficient?)
    • Any other potential changes on the horizon (staffing, ownership buy outs, possible acquisition of additional lines of business)?
    • Expectations of what you (the business owner) want from your banker (number of meetings each year, communications channels, etc.)

    You should expect your banker to be of assistance, giving you good guidance and advice.  If the banker can’t understand your business, it is difficult for him/her to be able to help you.  Meet with your banker, make sure he/she “get it”, and open up those communication channels for both of you to succeed.  The bank doesn’t do well unless its clients do well, and businesses don’t do well unless their bank is by their side helping them achieve the goals and aspirations of their companies.

    Go ahead and start these conversations today!

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