CEO Connects the Dots: Choose Your Attitude

I was out over the Thanksgiving weekend doing some shopping. Needless to say, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. Quite frankly, my attitude needed an adjustment. Instead of enjoying the hustle and bustle of people out doing their thing, the company of my wife, or the beautiful, crisp, November weather, I complained to myself about why we were there. I’m certain my body language was poor and even more certain that I had the Grinch’s puss on my face.

And then we walked into an old country store and I saw a rustic framed quote from Charles Swindoll:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Wow! These were powerful words and they showed up for me to see, just in time. I’m certain my day would have degraded into something terrible and probably would have ended with a spat with my wife by the end.

Instead, I took charge of my attitude and changed my entire day.

I realized just how right Swindoll is. Every single day we have a choice. Happiness is a choice. Embrace a positive attitude and start the day differently than maybe what feels natural in that moment (like staying in your bad mood & being a Grinch through the holiday season).

As we head into the holiday season, there is no better time to choose your attitude. The stress will mount each day both in your personal and professional life as the year comes to an end. Recognize that life is going to happen, and we can’t stop it. Just reflect on what Chuck Swindoll teaches in his quote, 90% of life is HOW WE REACT. Let life happen, and make the conscious decision to be positive in reaction.

Choose a great attitude starting today & let’s finish the year strong!

Data, Data Everywhere! But is There an Answer Insight?

businessman-with-binoculars-44303560-resized-600In blog posts, our LinkedIn Groups, on Facebook, we tend to throw the words “data” & “insight” around like they are one in the same. I know, I know, last week we talked about “Excel” vs. “spreadsheets” this week it’s “data” & “insight.” Has 9DOTS Thinking Outside the Box blog suddenly become a long-winded vocabulary lesson!? I promise you the answer is no, AND I am going to keep it short. The difference between the words “data” and “insight” are just as important as last weeks post (found here), if not more important, because we ALL use the words as synonyms–even previous 9DOTS blogs!

To keep it short & sweet:

  • Data = unprocessed facts, in no organized fashion, from multiple different sources
  • Insight = actionable knowledge that comes from data

This may seem like something small and insignificant, but it is critical to identify the difference. You see, that while it is great to have tons of data, you may not have all of the information or knowledge you really need to gain competitive advantage. How many products did you sell last month? You probably know that number off the top of your head! But why? Why did you sell (or not sell) that amount? What will you accomplish as a business next month, in 6 months, based on the data & numbers you have from last year? Is that change in marketing that you made working positively?

With the right analytics, data can be pulled together from different sources, be organized and help you gain knowledge you didn’t even realize you could have about your organization. Many businesses use data to drive actions and decisions, but if information gives you actionable insight you are much closer to finding value. Turning data into INSIGHT creates the narrative you need to tell your story. As long as you have the correct tools to do so, you will see drastically less unorganized numbers and much more actionable knowledge and information.

Don’t Be a Statistic in 2016, Gain Competitive Advantage!

2015 is coming to an end, and so has your budgeting season.  If you have been reading along, or even if you haven’t, here are a few facts we learned through different surveys and research throughout the year.

A study by Grant Thorton, LLP shows that only 36% of businesses use scenarios and “what-if” analyses to re-check possible outcomes of a strategy.

A study by F1F showed that, out of 1,200 senior managers surveyed yielded stastics like “17% of large businesses suffered financial loss due to poor spreadsheets, and 78% say that key financial decisions are supported by spreadsheets.”

Companies spend weeks or even months completing the annual budgeting process, because it is so important. But too many companies fail to supplement the annual budget with planning activities that could strengthen performance management, gain competitive advantage, and of course drive profit!

Read our white paper to figure out how NOT to be a statistic in 2016, and instead stay ahead of the competition. 

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The 10 Must-Follow Cash Flow Rules

cashflowEveryone knows you have to properly manage the cash flow of your business to reap the benefits and rewards. But sometimes, it can be easier said than done. Instead of worrying about making the best decision and constantly “fighting the cash flow fires,” you should be using the unique ideas you have to advance your business to eliminate the possibility of a fire at all.

Inc.’s 10 Absolutely Must-Follow Cash Flow Rules are 10 rules for less worry, doubt or concern about your organization. Implement them immediately to manage the way you do business to the best of your ability.

1. Never run out of Cash: Commit with your all to the work it takes to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

2. Cash is King: Cash is what keeps your business alive. Give it the attention it deserves.

3. Know the Cash Balance right now: With inaccurate information, even the most experienced of people could make a business decision that impacts negatively.

4. Do Today’s Work Today.

5. Either You do the Work or Have Someone Else Do it.  You just have to get the work done, so those are the only choices you have.

6. Don’t Manage from the Bank Balance: You reconcile your bank balance. You don’t manage from it.

7. Know What you Expect the Cash Balance to be Six Months from Now: This answers the question: do you manage your business, or does your business manage you? Use the necessary tools to forecast out this information and take advantage.

8. Cash Flow Problems Don’t “Just Happen”: Always know the answer to #7. You would be surprised at how many failed-business owners had no idea there was a cash flow problem in time to fix it.

9. You Absolutely, Positively, Must have Cash Flow Projections: They answer all of the important questions from the above rules.

10. Eliminate Your Cash Flow Worries!: Be free to do what you do best– take care of customers and make more money. Efficiency is the real key to success in business. You don’t want to be worrying about cash flow and ignoring what you should spend the most time on. Always focus on making your business better and use your talents to do what you are best at.


Analyzing the Gap: The Revenue Differentiator that Bridges Top-down (Demand) with Bottom-up

“Are You Thinking Ahead?”

I’m sure you are after reading last week’s post and thinking about your financial future. We’ve talked about risks and obstacles that can be thrown your way in business. Accurate forecasts offer us different tactics to avoid the stress those risks Top-Down Meets Bottom-Upand challenges put on us. Now, sales are rolling in and each month you need to prepare for the next, increasing your sales and generating profit. The question is, which forecasting approach is best for your company?

A top-down approach is driven on market demand. An understanding of the market through historical trending data and/or the sales pipeline to gage expected revenue is necessary. Then, align your organization’s expenses. The challenge is whether or not the business is structured to capitalize on market demand–a high market demand means you may be losing opportunity if you don’t have the necessary resources aligned internally.

A bottom-up approach is driven on resource supply. It answers questions like “how many hours of work can I bill?,” “how many widgets can I get produced?” and “how much crop will my fields yield?” Estimate potential sales revenue of a product in order to establish the total sales figure.

Both of these approaches can end up with differing results, and there is an extra component to forecasting that enables you to compares those differences–the gap analysis. With only the top-down approach or the bottom-up, there is no comparison and it can be misleading with revenue or supply. Gap analysis allows for a more holistic view of the business. Viewing the difference between a Top-down and bottom-up can give you actionable intelligence. For example, more market demand means you can safely hire more people, or a constraint on resource supply could determine the possibility of raising prices to increase margins.

Each business’ need is unique based on the industry and market conditions.  But having the ability to view and compare all three models with ease could potentially give you a competitive advantage.

Forecasting Certainty in an Uncertain World

When you picture your organization’s financial future, it shouldn’t just be an unattainable dream. Factor in every element that contributes to the future you desire: revenues, cash flows, accounts receivable and payable, overhead, salaries, benefits and capital expenditures. With a forecasting solution a dream becomes an achievable goal. It’s not always smooth sailing when you set a plan and try to follow it. In fact, it’s really challenging.

Environmental changes, interest rate shifts, customer behavior contradictions, supply issues, demand changes and other factors are unpredictable. They steer us away from the path we set out on. Factoring in changes to your forecasting system can seem daunting and stressful–pushing that dream further away from your future. Financial forecasts should make you feel safe, secure and prepared forecasting2for every for in the road.

The first step is accepting that risk and uncertainty happen in business. When the business drivers change, your business needs to adapt and accommodate the variables as quickly, painlessly and accurately as possible. 9Dots Forecasting makes it easy to adapt to the challenges that are thrown your way. Your forecast should take advantage of the past and provide predictability for the future in order to capitalize on opportunities for future growth. 9Dots has automated and streamlined the forecasting process allowing you to make frequent adjustments so that you utilize history, apply factors and drivers, and generate a more accurate, consolidated forecast reflecting the current run rate of your business. It eliminates uncertainties, and reduces the need for risky approximations.

9Dots has a proven record of providing managers with the ability to factor industry-specific challenges and projections into the plan, quickly and smoothly. Year-round planning and rolling forecasting, unlimited forecast versions, advanced business rules and modeling are just some of many features and capabilities the 9Dots Forecasting tool has so that you can achieve your goals and not just dream about them.


Sharpen Your Axe with the Perfect Budgeting & Forecasting Solution

There is a small number of people who actually enjoy taking part in the budgeting process eachaxe year, and we aren’t all lucky to have one of them at our company. I feel pretty comfortable assuming that budgeting is one of the most tedious, and potentially risky, tasks we do to keep our businesses competitive and running smoothly. Efficiency is the key to success for your organization.  It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” Everyone knows Excel; Excel spreadsheets have been popular for decades, and still are, but they can be a nightmare with any healthy-sized company. It can get complicated to consolidate multiple spreadsheets, share documents with different people, and handle numbers manually.

Many companies even have to begin the budgeting process way before the year’s end, resulting in more risk when estimating the budget, possible error and more importantly, misappropriated time. Extra time spent on the budgeting process is time that can be invested in improving other aspects of your company. So, how do you find that extra time, eliminate errors, and give everyone something to love about budgeting? Budgeting and forecasting software that accelerates and enhances the way you use excel spreadsheets.

When you implement a budgeting and forecasting solution you empower your employees to provide more value to the business with insightful analysis. Eliminate personal fatigue and bring more control to what is often a chaotic process. 9Dots does all of these things, and delivers them within that Excel interface you are familiar with. Sharpen your axe with a set of tools built right into Excel, flexibility to match the process to your business, and high user adoption. Why exhaust yourself spending six hours chopping down a tree, when you really only have to spend two?

Finance’s New Tools for Helping Your Organization Overcome Uncertainty | Business Finance

Finance professionals, particularly those responsible for planning, forecasting and analysis, face a great paradox. On one hand, we live in a dynamic economy that seems to change at a dizzying pace. On the other hand, our organizations seem to be paralyzed by the tremendous uncertainties being faced.
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