A look back at the highlights from a 100-column collection

May 3, 2011 By    

It seems appropriate that since this is my 100th column I would review some of the better columns I have offered over the past several years. Here are some highlights that you might find of interest:

Friends don’t let friends start C-corps – May 2002 and January 2006
C-corporations are ultimately subject to a double taxation that LLCs are not. If your business is a C-corp., consider beginning your conversion process immediately. Always consult legal and tax advice.

Why most propane startups fail – December 2007
The top reasons are: Capital for growth runs out before the company turns a profit; sales and gross profit projections are never reached; poor accounting and recordkeeping prevent measurement and controls; and management is not operating on a practical, well-honed business plan.

Solid accounting adds business value – December 2003
As one who evaluates businesses for a living, it is my observation that all good companies have exceptional internal controls and accounting practices and a solid external accounting professional who compiles regular reports. Conversely, businesses that are in some form of trouble generally have weak accounting practices, poor controls and little measurement.

Does your business have too little debt? – July 2002
The gist of this column is that some of us are so adverse to debt that we avoid it at all costs. Those costs, however, can include the lack of opportunity to grow, lost profits and perhaps the future of the business. The key takeaway here is that growth opportunities that produce greater return than the cost of debt should be pursued with urgency.

Effective leaders delegate – January 2005
I am firmly convinced that the single biggest hurdle to owners/managers excelling is their inability to turn over secondary functions to others. Put another way, successful leaders learn to get work done through others. The key is to delegate those tasks and responsibilities to others who can do them as well or better than you – and retain the most critical tasks for yourself.

Continued failure of gallon measurement – February 2006
All gallons are not equal in their value contribution to our businesses. Value contribution is based on the net return of gross margin less operating expenses. Unfortunately, many of us believe that the only measure that is important is gallons sold. True value, on the other hand, is based on producing consistent profitability.

Are your salespeople truly selling? – September 2007
Selling is a profession that is often misunderstood. Many of our salespeople are talking when they should be listening, telling when they should be asking and attempting to convince when they should convey. Equally important is that all sales professionals need a plan and a purpose when it comes to seeing their customers. There is no point in just visiting.

Investments without returns – July 2008
Each of us attempts to direct our efforts toward what we believe improves our businesses and, in theory, increases their value. Yet, often we spend time on efforts that return little added value. In the end, doing so will degrade the overall value of the business.

How to be a great boss – April 2010
Attention focuses upwards in organizations. Employees know more about their managers than the managers know about their employees. Also, managers tend to see the world from their own perspective when their team may have better experiences and ideas. All employees want to be understood, to have a boss who is predictable, to have as much control over their work as possible and to have their needs be valued by the organization.

The smartest investment you can make – June 2002
The internal rate of return on new set steel, particularly residential leased tanks, is nothing short of remarkable. The math is, of course, a ratio of gross margin to value of the steel invested, but the article points out that returns of 25 percent to 50 percent should be expected.

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