What is the Value of a Small Business?

This has nothing to do with business…it’s a fishing story (and a marriage story, kinda)

This has nothing to do with business…it’s a fishing story (and a marriage story, kinda)

While in Santa Fe a while back we (my wife Barb and I) decided to try fly fishing in New Mexico.  But first a little about our fishing experience. We are experienced fishermen and we fish the Galveston bay system probably 60 days a year.  We fish primarily in Galveston West Bay and in  shallow water 1? -3? deep. Our usual targets are speckled trout and redfish. We will often find some undesirables on the end of our line.. fish like shark, gafftop, ladyfish, sting rays, etc. My wife had never tried fly fishing before and my only prior fly fishing experience was about an hour trying to learn to fly rod cast in Laguna Madre about 10 years ago (unfortunately it was late at night and there was beer involved so I didn’t learn much).

We decided we needed professional assistance (and we are sure glad we did!). We spend many weeks a year in Santa Fe and we were familiar with High Desert Anglers on Cerrillos Road. I put in a call to them and they were very helpful and willing to take on two fly fishing novices. We booked a trip for the Pecos River.

We had the good fortune to be assigned to an experienced guide, Jim Jones. Mr. Jones is as nice a guy as you’d want to meet.  We met at 8am at the shop and got fitted for our waders and other gear which all seemed to be in very good condition. We hopped in Jim’s truck and took the ride to the Pecos River private water we had booked. In about an hour we were putting our gear on and walking the river bank heading to a spot to wade in. Prior to our hike Jim showed us the basics of fly casting and he did a great job of simplifying things with very easy to follow tips. I have fished with many guides over the years and here I was having been with a guide for almost 2 hours already and he hasn’t yet called anyone an idiot, that was a good sign.

After a short hike we wade into the Pecos River. Remember please, we’re from Houston and the 58 degree water felt mighty cold and mighty nice.

We were a little surprised that the water was flowing as strongly as it was. If you waded into a 2 ft deep spot the water could exert a lot of pressure on you. So please keep in mind that my wife needs the waders on to get up to 100lbs and for her the water current was a battle all day.

We wade into the middle of the stream with a plan to wade into the current, cast into the current and let the fly drift back. About the second or third cast the water boils up and Barb misses her first fly fishing trout! The technique for actually hooking a fly fish is opposite the technique for the artificial lure fishing we do in Galveston, that was a surprise to us. Fortunately a few minutes later I got a bite and managed to land a small brown trout, my first fly fishing catch.

That’s the good news, the bad news is Barb has not caught a fish yet and our guide makes it his personal mission in life to make sure she does. She’d had a number of strikes so far but was unable to land anything. Being the gentleman that I am (and also because Jim told me to) I let Barb and Jim go ahead so they could have the “fresh” water to work. Barb had some more opportunities but still no hook-ups.

I guess I got impatient in the back and when Jim wanted Barb to re-rig and fish a deeper hole I decided to go ahead of them and explore the new water. It all went well for a minute or two. I got to a deep spot and decided to climb a few rocks in order to get to a perfect, trout looking spot ahead.  I climbed up the rock and as I stepped down on the other side my knee went out (old basketball injury). I went down like I was shot. Bounced off the rock and now horizontal, half in the water and half out… but I was facing up stream and my waders were filling up fast! I gotta tell you it was not a fun event. I felt like I was being dragged under water. I was clinging to the rock like I was on the edge of Everest. I managed to pull myself onto a flat spot, waders filled with 58 degree water, and look back down stream. What do I see? Barb and Jim pretty much laughing at me. They claim they were shouting, trying to see if I needed help, but they sure weren’t heading my direction! They claim this all happened in about 18 inches of water but by my memory it was about 10 feet deep!

I emptied my waders and onward we moved upstream. Barb had a few more opportunities but was unable to land her first fly fish. I had another hook up that didn’t get landed.

All the while our guide, Mr. Jones, was helpful and good spirited. We didn’t catch many fish but we had a great time. The weather was as spectacular as the the scenery and spending a half day walking up a beautiful river is hard to beat. Even with my near death experience it was a perfect day on the river.

And, oh yea, did I mention that the camera Barb told me not to bring was in my waders when I fell in? That didn’t go over well. Uhhh, no pictures for this post.

Business Systems Create Profits and Value

Business Systems Create Profits and Value

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When the time comes for selling a business many business owners suddenly realize how much value is created or lost based on the systems in place for the person buying the business.

We meet many business owners who are overwhelmed by the day to day fire drill they call a business and the thought of creating systems for their business is overwhelming to them. I always give the same advice:

 Start Small but START NOW!  SSSN!

You have to START…. 1 system no matter how small is better than no systems… 2 is better than 1..you get the idea.

But where to start? We recommend picking an important but relatively easy task or process that includes another person in your business. Work together, start with an outline and work down. Your objective at the end is to be able to create a simple checklist so that anyone can learn the process very quickly.

Here’s a sample of a simple process –  What happens when a check comes in the mail at your business?

1. Person opening mail gives Check to Mary

2. Mary stamps check for deposit only (stamp in Mary’s top right drawer)

3. Mary  makes 2 copies of check and puts 1 copy in daily check receipt file and the other in a/r process folder

4. Mary gives check to Joe.

There it is, Mary is done with the check. There would be another process written for Joe for what he does with the check and another process for Mary or whomever records what invoices the customer’s check paid.

Now name this system, it could be “Check Receipt Process” or whatever makes sense to you. Give Mary a copy and start a 2″ binder and put this system in the binder. There that’s a start and you probably got it done start-to-finish in 15mins.  Now when you or Mary have an idea on how to improve this system (do you really need 2 copies of check? ) you just mark-up the system in the binder quick in easy.

Wait a day or two then knock off another system in a few weeks you could have 8- 10 critical business systems in your binder. And why do you want the systems in your binder?

So if Mary doesn’t come to work for 2 weeks or Mary quits. All you have to do is hand the process to the new person who handles the checks and you’re off and running. No training, just have the person work the system.

Systems make managing a business easier, improves customer service and accuracy, increases profits and reduces the cost of training and employee turnover.

Plus, it increases the value of your business when it’s time to sell and realize the value you’ve worked so hard to create,.

Remember Start Small but START NOW!   SSSN

Common Characteristics of Profitable Businesses

Common Characteristics of Profitable Businesses

As a Business Broker I’ve had the opportunity to meet with and analyze more than 2,000 businesses. I have come to discover that there are 6 basic characteristics that are almost always found in profitable businesses.

6 Characteristics of Profitable Businesses:

  1. The business owner has an firm grip on reality. They understand the good and the bad of their industry and their business.
  2. The business owner spends the money to get good advice. They have an accountant, attorney and financial adviser that is competent in the specific industry and size business.
  3. The business owner makes a good faith effort to have systems and procedures in place so that their product or service experience is repeatable. The vast majority of activity is done the same way each time.
  4. The business owner is always trying to find ways to do #3 better.
  5. The business owner doesn’t blame his employees and his customers for his results. It is shocking to me how often this is the case in bad businesses.
  6. The business owner owns the business for a reason other than it’s just a way to make a living. The owner might want to sell the business to fund their retirement or next venture or pass the business on to their kids or create enough profit to fund a charitable cause important to them or operate a business to allow them enough free time and money to pursue an important cause.
Businesses and business owners with the above characteristics are much more likely to be profitable, more valuable and easier to operate than businesses without these characteristics.
Are there other characteristics that are important to you as a customer? Can you identify businesses with these 6 characteristics?

 

Sunbelt Completes the Sale of a Specialized Property Management Company

Sunbelt Completes the Sale of a Specialized Property Management Company

We are pleased to announce this successful transaction. The business is a 30-year-old company operated by the same 2 partners since it’s inception. Both partners were ready to retire.

The sellers were referred to Sunbelt by Steve Drake a well known Houston, Texas financial planner and host of his own financial radio show called Money Matters.

The business specializes in the management of Homeowners Associations.

The buyer had experience in working for an association management firm and was able to finance the purchase with a very attractive bank loan from Allegiance Bank utilizing the SBA Loan Guarantee program. Gary Henderson managed the process for Allegiance Bank.

The buyer will assure the business lives on long past the time when the founders were able to operate the company.

We are proud to be a part of this transaction that enables longtime business owners to realize the value created in their business and retire in the comfort they had worked so hard to earn.