2014 the Time is Right

surfing 0012014 looks like it has the potential, the wheels on the ground to become a very good year for business.  Since it doesn’t end with a ’13 and because many businesses seem to be gathering enough wind in the sails to overcome the dramatic over-regulation of the Federal Government.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  We may even see a resurgence of focus on real rate of return business rather than empty estimates and internal redistribution of assets to tweak the balance sheet.  Productivity is coming back into practice.

Where can we see evidence of this?  Not in retail sales but in attitudes of professionals and the better quality of service expectations.  Everyone I talk to is leaning toward productivity, not just streamlining expenses.  More people are interested in innovation than ever before.  Successful business investors are awash with money and seem poised to invest in good business ideas and plans.  People are focusing on smart rather than government and this will win in the long run.

If you have a business idea or plan you have been waiting to launch, do it now.  I believe a good wave to ride is coming in now.  Get up on your board and surf!

2014 Focus on Business Analytics

Business AnalyticsOne of the most important features of a well-run business is database analytics.  In any business, of any size, knowledge of your client/customer sales, activities, inquiries, and marketing information (their responses back to you) can be one of the most important determinants of the success and expansion of your business.  If you don’t know what’s going on, you don’t know what to do next and may be depending on luck to grow your business.  The more random your client/customer base is, the more important this becomes.

Do you have a customer/client database?  To be sure, it is more than a list of names, addresses and phone numbers.  A real database includes a form which can be filled out for each client/customer.  The form completed as much as possible for each one, depending on how often you deal with each, how much information your customers supply, and how good you are at obtaining the information.  If your business already operates online, then you should know you have no excuses for not acquiring the data.  If you meet them in person or they come and go through a store front it may be a bit less convenient to get the information.  You can also purchase or data-mine information from the web.  The point is to get as much data as possible and collect it in a powerful database.

Why is it valuable?  Because once you have the data you can crunch it in an endless number of ways, mathematically, by date, by frequency, by items in your inventory, and almost anything you can think of.  This data is very important because when you study it you will come up with new ideas for sales, marketing, and services.  The activities of your clients/customers and your business (including staff/employees) will uncover much about your business.  You may find ways to streamline your operations, then review new activities and expand or change further.  If you have a record of requests from your employees and customers you can respond by making changes based on the frequency.  Most successful online businesses already use this data to push ads and inventory.

Even if you only own a lawn service, keeping track of requests for service will help you know when advertising may be more effective.  In a medical practice it is often known what time of year certain ailments or issues tend to show up like flu season.  Because of the complexities of a family practice, which has more variance than a specialty, the data becomes more important for business planning.  But you will need someone to design, develop the analytics to make the data valuable.

If you are successful in developing good data analytics your business may increase tremendously in value.  When selling a practice or business, this data can shed light on the real potential in developing the business under new ownership.

A list of steps to increase the value of your business with data analytics:

  • You must have a good computer, modern, latest operating systems for security
  • If you don’t have it yet, you need a web site and top web service platforms like Yahoo!, Google, Bing, WordPress, and more.
  • You need a data collection system.  Most of the web platforms above already have tools built in.  You just need to make use of them.
  • To make use of the tools above you need a good web design and analytics person who knows the ins and outs of web development, marketing, and data collection.  It is worth the money!
  • Once you have the data collected it will need to be processed.  A good database is a requirement.
  • You should review data, collection, and analytics as well as business opportunities at least once a quarter.


It will all grow from here.  There is a learning curve but you just need to trust that understanding the activities of your business, clients/customers/patients will help you come up with better services, products, and procedures for business success.


Investing your money in a business, or in multiple businesses, means you are taking a position of ownership, and responsibility.  You will be responsible for knowing how the business is doing, how much you should expect to earn and when (could be years away), tax laws, ownership risk, and maybe management of the business itself.

As a stockbroker I was always amazed at how few people took ownership seriously, and it was their money they had invested.  People have a tendency to wish for an end result but they rarely manage the process to get there.  A good policy for you, whether you invest in stocks, bonds, partnerships, or directly, would be to care about your ownership position and what it means to be there.  Take your position so seriously that you feel the need to understand the business, its opportunities and risks, and maintain a real expectation of return over a reasonable period of time.

As you seek opportunity you may be interested in pursuing a business you recently became excited about.  The excitement is what causes inventors to invent, innovators to innovate, and gamblers to gamble.  Be careful which way you go.  When you have an interest in a particular business it may be of value to compare the merits of ownership to other businesses.  For instance, you may want to compare your opportunity to the rewards of owning a food franchise, a dry cleaning business, or a dress shop.  Just be sure you understand where your business fits in the food chain of the economy, stand back and take a hard look while considering if it really has a good chance of performing at the level you wish.  Remember, we are talking about business ownership and not innovation which is completely different.

Now you have your work cut out for you.  You will need to consider the following:Ecspex Logo

  • How much to invest.  Should you do it all or will there be other investors?
  • How long will it take to make money? A month, year, 3 years, or maybe 5?
  • You will need many resources, even for an established business.  Legal, taxes, management, suppliers, customers, advertising…
  • You must plan for success, otherwise why own a business?  You need a real plan, not just a list of goals.
  • It is important to plan for failure too.  When should you cut your losses?  How will you know if the business is a failure?  Can you move on without too much emotion and regret?  Field Marshal Rommel was an expert at this.
  • Set Waypoints for success.  Waypoints are smaller goals you expect to meet along the way to your primary goals.  i.e. a start date is a waypoint to being in business.

I mentioned that Innovation is different from ownership, and it is.  Innovators may or may not be business owners.  Innovators have ideas of how to make a business, new or established, run better.  Steve Jobs was no inventor, was not a good business owner at times and was fired from Apple for poor performance, but his innovations propelled the company forward just enough ahead of the pack to make Apple successful.  If you are an innovator then you have an idea to bring to the productivity of the world.  In doing so you may need to engage the help of a business owner/leader to help you execute an effective plan.  I will discuss this in a separate article.