Business Planning in Lincoln, NE – 2019
With the arrival of the new year, we asked local businesses what their goals are for 2019 and how they plan to go about establishing and reaching those goals. While business planning isn’t just something that you do in the final months of the year or into the beginning of the next, as it’s an ongoing process, it is a common time to take stock of what you accomplished in the last year and use that information to determine a game plan for the next.
If you are a business owner or a professional who is responsible for all aspects of an organization’s operations, you likely already understand that planning is critical to the continued success of your business. However, with so many different areas to concentrate on, you’ll have to rank your priorities.
“First and foremost, the most important thing is to actually have a systematic process for planning ahead and setting goals for the upcoming year,” notes Austin Zimmerman with SP Group, P.C. “Taking a step back from the day-to-day operation of the business to evaluate your strengths and improvement opportunities can be extremely valuable. Take the opportunity to seek input from people both inside and outside your organization to get a full view of what may lie ahead.
Second, once you have developed your organizational goals for 2019, communicate them throughout your organization and implement steps to actually achieve those goals. Often times, decision-makers go through the time-consuming process of planning and setting goals, only to revert back to business as usual shortly thereafter. View this process as an opportunity to get better and strengthen your team, versus just another task to cross off the list.
Finally, once your goals are set and an improvement plan is in place, get in touch with your network of advisors, such as your accounting firm, legal counsel, and financial professional and let them know what your goals are. That way, they can best consider your needs when providing you with guidance.”
Austin goes on to say, “The key is to take a long-term, big picture approach when planning for the upcoming year. It is very easy to think in terms of what might save you money today, but that is not always the best long-term solution. Communicate with your network of advisors and consider all factors, such as market volatility, cash flows, seasonality of your business, etc. when determining your plan. The ideal plan would find the right balance between minimizing tax liability and maximizing protection from market risks.
At SP Group, we strive to be more than just a tax return preparer. Taking the time to learn a business’ goals and developing a plan to reach those goals is absolutely vital to a healthy accountant-client relationship. We believe that it is best to communicate with the client early and often during the planning process, and to determine the best course of action for the months ahead that will create the most value over the long-term.”
It’s also important to keep up with the current trends in the business world; things are constantly changing that will effect a business plan. Right now, the hot-button issue on the mind of every business owner is how will the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (passed December 2017) impact my business this year and going forward?
As Austin states, unfortunately there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all answer. However, the good news is that the picture is becoming much clearer as lawmaking bodies work to clarify various provisions in the law. Reach out to a trusted tax professional, and ask them to explain the changes that could have an impact on your business or industry. As always, it is better to have that conversation sooner rather than later, so that you can be equipped with the necessary knowledge when determining the best plan for your business as we move ahead to 2019. Meeting with a trusted advisor to start this new year may be more important than ever.
Similarly, Aaron Newell with AR Solutions advises to closely analyze the previous year—you can learn very valuable lessons that can be applied to the coming year. Take an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses. That will help you determine what you can do to be more efficient and where you should be spending your time and effort versus what would be best to put in the capable hands of a professional. First off, by freeing up your time to engage in activities that are generating revenue for your business, there will be more of it. Secondly, by investing in the services of the professionals who are focused on doing what they do best, you’ll benefit from better results.
“With accounts receivable and collections, in particular, it takes time, effort, and consistency to get the best results,” says Aaron. “Then there are the complexities involved with the legal aspects of collections to take into consideration. By partnering with AR Solutions, you’ll be assured that you’re protected legally, that your reputation is being upheld by our representatives, and that we’re working hard to collect on your past-due accounts. The collection industry has changed immensely in the last 10 years and AR Solutions understands, as you do, that it’s time for a new approach—one with real answers and real results.”
One thing we made a point to ask the experts is if they could identify if there is anything that businesses commonly overlook in planning for the coming year, or if there are any other mistakes they’d advise against.
“Based on my industry knowledge and experience, business owners commonly overlook taxes and regulatory fees for expansion.” Confirms Jethro Hopkins with No Coast Business Advisors. “I also see businesses underestimate their marketing budget for the year. Along with talking to a financial advisor, business owners need to meet with trusted marketing consultants to get an idea of how much advertising/promotion will cost to reach the marketing goals they have in mind.
If you are not a business owner but your goal is to become one this year, or perhaps you are just looking to expand your current business, No Coast Business Advisors is a great resource. As a respected brokerage firm here in Nebraska, No Coast can assist buyers and businesses in finding and acquiring financing through their network of professional lenders. They can also get the businesses they put up for sale SBA pre-qualified by other SBA-preferred lenders in the network. Pre-qualified means that an SBA-backed lender believes that it would consider providing a business acquisition loan to a qualified buyer.
In addition, by mid-2019, No Coast Business Advisors will be the only third party credited brokerage firm in Nebraska. They are one out of only a couple agencies in the state to be members of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) and M&A Source. The purpose of being a part of both communities of business specialists is so Jethro and his partner Jeff Dousharm can be the most educated for their clients’ sake, being knowledgeable of best business practices for a wide range of capital.
“If you are thinking about selling your business in the next couple of years, it’s crucial to focus on the financial records now,” addresses Jethro. “This alone will play a major role in the business’s value when it comes time to sell. It’s important to track all transactions, especially purchases, as a part of the profit and loss statements. Having a legitimate paper trail for all of the business’s finances can actually increase the value of the business because you have quantifiable proof to show potential buyers. Moreover, it is wise to begin paying yourself as an employee as opposed to taking your cut of the business’s profit.”
Another resource to reference in terms of business planning is No Coast Business Advisors’ new book, Exit Lever: How Smart Business Owners & Buyers Avoid The 10 Mistakes That Ruin the Sales of Businesses. Just released in December of 2018, this book offers great insight for anyone who is planning to sell a business, buy a business, or just want to get things right to increase the value of their business. Authors Jeff Dousharm and Jethro Hopkins published Exit Lever to help save more people from mistakes that are wasting both time and money. This book is available on Amazon.com.
For those who are planning on starting a business, or are already in the process, finding the right property at which to conduct operations is an essential part of the equation. Contact an agent if you are looking for commercial space for the first time. In most cases, the potential tenant or buyer is not responsible for the payment of the agent. Contracting an agent allows you to have a knowledgeable individual who has experience in the field to help you find the perfect property and negotiate terms that work for you.
For example, most individuals who are leasing commercial property for the first time find triple net leases a little confusing; just imagine you are separating the rent from the other costs associated with leasing a space, such as taxes, insurance, common area maintenance, etc. Greenleaf Properties can help new businesses understand and acquire their space needs. Every business has different goals and we can find the space that puts them in the very best position to accomplish them. The many long-term relationships that Greenleaf’s professionals have maintained are the direct result of being in the Lincoln real estate market for decades.
Circling back to strategic planning as a whole, Andrew Storz with Virtual C notes that in order to stay competitive in the current environment, it’s important to consistently be reflecting on how your organization can improve upon its strategy, culture, and execution.
“Far too often, we’re overestimating how far out we can reasonably plan and strategize.” States Andrew. “When I used to run the budget process for a company, we would begin work in October determining in great detail what our business would like through the end of the next year, which is not uncommon for many businesses. By next December, 15 months later, that same budget and the goals we set could not have been more irrelevant to how our organization operated. Information stagnates faster than ever and we have to be mindful of that when we create our strategic and tactical visions.
It›s also important to understand that when change is needed, your business will need to have the ability to respond and adapt. A topic that comes to mind in terms of change, especially in regards to how impactful it is on businesses in today’s day and age, is technology.
“We live in an amazing time when technology allows us to communicate and share information in ways not possible just a few years ago,” comments Andrew. “Technology and business today moves at a much faster rate than any time before. Failing to accept and embrace change can be a deadly choice for an organization. Make it your goal for 2019 to educate yourself on emerging technology trends to keep your business competitive.
Of course, understanding all there is to know about technology and the digital world is quite an undertaking—most business owners and working folks don’t have the time or the means to do this without assistance. We identified this gap in the business world wherein companies have nowhere to turn to gain trusted advice on technology. This is why we created Virtual C. Our goal is to deliver trusted advice by not reselling software or other services. We want to empower your company this year! Get in touch with us here at Virtual C, or stop by our Collaboration Center and hang out for a while so we get can to know you and your business!”
The Virtual C Collaboration Center (1701 Windhoek Dr.) is the area›s premier location for training, conferences, strategy sessions and other professional events. Virtual C offers executive consulting services and works with businesses to facilitate agile transformation. Co-founder Adam Walter works with companies to offer up agile CIO strategy and interim management services. Chief agile officer Andrew Storz is an expert in lean, agile cultural transformation; breaking down company silos. Their services allow you the benefits of a full-time chief information officer (CIO) without having to pay for a full-time CIO. The Virtual C team ensures visibility involving technology needs that will give you a competitive edge in the marketplace.
Since technology is advancing at such a rapid rate, even if you think you have everything in place, take a second look periodically just in case. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to evaluate anything that might need to be upgraded. If your business does identify the need for an updated computer system, get in touch with EXTREME PCs. With over 30 years of experience and locally owned, EXTREME PCs custom builds desktop computers and laptops for every need. As an Intel Platinum Partner and a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, the industry recognizes the intense amount of quality attached with EXTREME PCs’ computers. All PCs sold at EXTREME PCs, located at 1801 Pine Lake Rd., come with a legendary Lifetime Service Guarantee.
For anything tech-related, if it’s not your specific area of expertise, seek the guidance and help of a professional! Again, diverting your attention from activities that are generating revenue and helping you to grow your business to try and fix an issue that could potentially take a lot of time, skill, and specific knowledge to troubleshoot successfully is the last thing you should be doing if at all possible. That being said, the needs of businesses do vary quite a bit when it comes to IT support, so it’s wise to plan accordingly.
“Look at the IT services you are paying for currently and determine if they’re really needed,” advises Darren Lichty with Panology Tech Solutions. “Moreover, is the amount you’re paying actually fair for the value you are getting (or not getting)? We bring value to SMBs by tailoring services to their specific needs now with the scalability to adapt as the business grows. This allows our clients to manage costs without sacrificing what they need to have in place to operate efficiently.
For many small businesses, with growth comes the need to add more employees quickly to meet the needs of clients. Yet, there aren’t any processes in place moving forward and there’s little time to devote to that when you’re busy with everything else, which is why you hired someone in the first place. Are you planning to add employees in the coming year? We enjoy sitting down with our clients and examining their onboarding processes. By streamlining and automating these processes, we can get new employees up and productive quicker.”
Darren also notes, “When planning for your future investment in technology, keep in mind that cloud-based offerings continue to grow each year. The pay-as-you-go model and low maintenance overhead make these offerings especially powerful for small businesses. If you were planning to replace or upgrade an aging server in the next year, I highly recommend we look at some cloud-based options instead. Many small businesses also forget to budget for replacing aging computers. Instead of waiting for them to break down, plan to replace your computers every five years. If your business does heavy computing tasks (pictures, video, big data, etc.) you may want to consider accelerating this schedule to every three years. By planning for routine replacement, you can avoid the surprise expense.”
When dealing with technology, especially related to business and revenue coming in and out, security is very important. Sixty percent of small businesses permanently close their doors within six months of a credit card breach. Make sure that your business isn’t part of that sixty percent by working with a payment company you can trust.
“All businesses handle money, no matter how big or small,” Joan Kurtenbach with Heartland Payment Solutions points out. “Any company with employees has some kind of payroll system in place. As you plan for your business, ask yourself if your current system is working and if you feel confident in its security.
Heartland Payment Systems serves businesses of all sizes, vested in helping you achieve your goals by providing a wide range of solutions like Heartland Payroll+HR. Heartland Payroll+HR takes the guesswork out of processing payroll and managing the intricacies of human resources regulations and issues. Payroll+HR is a turnkey payroll service with a full range of human resources tools to support your business.
Our superior technology allows your payroll data to be securely accessed by providers of banking services, benefit programs or insurance providers for a variety of payroll-related services. Nothing is more important to us than your business, and we pledge to earn it every day.”
Business Planning Pro Tip: As you meet with your team to talk strategy and goals for 2019, make sure you do it with slice of delicious Godfather’s Pizza. Godfather’s will cater to your office, allowing your team to stay focused on the business planning agenda. Godfather’s Pizza is proud to offer personalized service and flexible delivery options. With custom orders and pricing, everyone on your business team can get the menu item they want without breaking the bank. Pizza makes every meeting and event better!
We wish you and your business team the best as you set goals and plan for the year. It’s a fun, exciting time! Especially when you partner with industry experts who can help you achieve success in so many ways. Together, let’s make 2019 a great year for businesses in Lincoln!