Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chairman’s Fiscal Year in Review

score_tjpg_Revelle This article was written by Jack Revelle, SCORE Orange County Chairman

Another fiscal year is just about over and with it comes the end of my term of office as the chapter chair for Orange County SCORE-114. During these past 12 months our chapter has continued to grow, both in numbers of volunteer management counselors (we are now approaching 110 members and remain the largest, most productive chapter in all of SCORE) and in the number of the various types of services we offer the Orange County small business community (including no-cost, one-on-one counseling at 18 sites across the county and over 150 no-cost or low-cost workshops at libraries, chambers of commerce, and universities).

Even some of our regular SCORE clients are not fully aware of the many other challenges our counselors accept, e.g., we provide advisory board services to existing businesses that need a continuing relationship with one or more of our volunteers. Our speakers bureau continues to make our management counselors available to many service, civic, and professional organizations as well as to local conferences to speak about SCORE and what we do as offer as on a variety of business-oriented topics.

Already in its third year, our Women’s Breakfast of Champion series continues to grow in popularity as measured by the number of repeat attendees we see. We continue to mentor both undergraduate and graduate university students in entrepreneurial programs at UC-Irvine, Cal State-Fullerton, and Chapman University. For example, we annually participate in the Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth Business Plan Competition as both student team coaches and this year, for the first time, as judges.

For many years Orange County SCORE-114 has maintained a library of no-cost, hard copy documents that are distributed by our counselors to our one-on-one clients during their appointments at our Santa Ana office. This collection has been expanded to include additional materials not previously available through SCORE. Naturally, our free CD is offered to those clients who indicate a need for the business plan, marketing plan and cash flow templates contained on the CD.

We have considerably expanded our outreach to assist our military men and women with small businesses who are just deploying to or returning from the Middle East as well as their spouses who need the advice and assistance that Score’s volunteer management counselors provide.

Just recently, we have established an electronic link and a continuing relationship with the Norm and Mike Radio Show, a daily (2:00 to 3:00PM) broadcast on KLAA (AM830) that features current business news as well as discussions about various aspects of the economy, plus the importance of mortgage acceleration and debt elimination.

Another recent development, we are, for the first time, the “official” judges for the Supplier Excellence Alliance (SEA) Awards. See article below.

And for those organizations that already exist as or want to become non-profits, some of our SCORE volunteer management counselors are also associated with Coaches of Orange County (ECOC). This group specializes in providing advice and the Executive assistance to non-profit organizations.

When you visit our local website, www.SCORE114.org, or the SCORE Association national website, www.SCORE.org, there is virtually nothing a small business wants or needs (short of a loan) that you can’t find. And when you’re ready to give back to the small business community, you’re encouraged to contact us on our local website to investigate the process for becoming a SCORE volunteer management counselor in the largest, most productive SCORE chapter in the country.

And this is just the beginning of what Orange County SCORE-114 has done, is doing, and will be doing. We are the resource of choice for all of the small business community and if you, as an owner or manager, haven’t yet made use of our no-cost products and services, don’t you think the time has come when you should?

Thank you, one and all, clients, sponsors, and volunteers for all you do to make America great. Without the entrepreneurial spirit, dedication and energy of the small business community, our vitality and growth would not be what it is.

Members of Chapter 114 thank Jack ReVelle for his dedication and leading the chapter to another outstanding year of providing quality client services. Job well done.

Two Websites You Need To Know About

score_tjpg_Ginnaty This article was written by Dick Ginnaty, CPA

Put www.calgold.ca.gov and www.nolo.com in your favorite places.

Calgold is a site maintained by the California Environmental Protection Agency which lists all the requirements to operate a business in the various cities of California. So, for example, if you thinking about operating a business in Brea, visit the website (www.calgold.ca.gov) and follow the instructions, and the requirements of doing business in Brea are presented. How cool is that? Timely, definitive, and free.

Nolo, formerly known as Nolo Press, has for the past 30 years been a publisher and distributor of books and pamphlets that explain in plain English, legal processes. Titles such as, “How to form a LLC”, and, “How to form a Corporation,” have been published and are updated on a regular basis. Most of the books are written by attorneys. Many include a CD including all the forms needed to create the legal document required to accomplish the stated task, and the price is right. Almost all of the titles cost less than $100.

Even if you are not inclined to try to “do it yourself” filing important legal documents that you want done correctly (like incorporating), I encourage you to visit the site and purchase any title that is related to the topic you are interested in. By knowing about the legal process you want accomplished, you will understand the information required by the lawyer to perform the task, and can get started gathering it. It will also help you understand the time (and dollars) required to complete the task.

Remember, a prepared and informed buyer usually get the best deal, either in terms of cost, or more importantly, quality. This general advice applies to professional services also.

Good luck and here’s hoping it “all adds up” for you.

(If there is any area in accounting or tax that you think needs to be addressed in this newsletter please e-mail Dick at Ginnatycpa@aol.com and if it is of general interest, he will address it in future articles)

Chapter 114 to Judge Aerospace Supplier Competition

score_tjpg_farro This article was written by Angelo Farro, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

SEA (Supplier Excellence Association) has selected SCORE114 as the exclusive panel of judges to evaluate applications for the annual awards to outstanding Aerospace companies. 

The awards recognize the best suppliers and highlight the best practices leading to outstanding business performance.
SEA is a non-profit alliance of industry prime and tier-one contractors and leading sub-tier production suppliers.

Award categories include:

  • SEA Leadership & Culture Award
  • SEA Workforce Development Award
  • SEA Operational Excellence Award
  • SEA Performance Award: Most Improved
  • SEA Supply Chain Innovation Award
  • SEA Customer of the Year Award
  • SEA Richard Hall Award for Leadership Excellence

The SCORE judges are Angelo Farro, Jim Fulton, Jack James, Bern Lefson, Bob Lichtsinn, Jerry Margolin and Jack ReVelle.

Awards will be announced at the Awards Gala to be held November 12, 2008 in Palm Springs.

Are You Hiring Someone With Analytical Skills For The Position?

score_tjpg_lefson This article was written by Bern Lefson, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

Many positions in small businesses require a person to think beyond the routine.  Analyzing the meaning of a situation or set of data means better service to the customer or more efficiency or profit for the firm.  To test a candidate's ability to think in this way means a very detailed interview.  One must ask questions that truly reveal whether an applicant has the analytical skills you are looking for.

Interview questions to assist in identifying analytical skills include:

  • Describe a situation when you anticipated a problem. What, if anything, did you do about it?
  • Give an example of when your diagnosis of a problem proved to be correct. What approach did you take to diagnose the problem? What was the outcome?
  • Describe the most difficult work problem you've ever encountered. What made it difficult? What solution was implemented and how successful was it in solving the problem?
  • What steps do you take toward developing a solution?
  • What factors did you consider in evaluating solutions?

It is critical to your success to think through the potential challenges of the position you are seeking to fill.  Then measure the candidate with questions such as outlined above.  You will be rewarded with a much better hire and fit.

Let’s Discuss Various Types of Business Debt

score_tjpg_bour This article was written by Norm Bour, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, no different than the blood that keeps us alive. Without positive cash flow your business dies. It is one of those things that most business owners take for granted, grumble about and try to control. Yet they rarely sit down and analyze it and develop an orchestrated plan to eliminate it.

We’ve categorized debts into four major groups: mortgage debt, equipment debt, inventory and revolving or personal debt.

Mortgage debt is usually, but not always, the largest debt for a business. If you own a building it is typically the “best” type of debt since it is long term and more stable than others. Our goal is to eliminate all the other debts that impede cash flow so we can focus everything towards that mortgage debt.

Equipment debt is one that some businesses do not have, but if you are involved in manufacturing or any type of production these costs can be high. Doctors, dentists and medical related fields typically have significant equipment debt. Many times these loans are in the forms of leases, which make a lot of sense for many reasons. Lower payments and the ability to phase out obsolete equipment or technology are just a few.

Inventory debt can be considerable in many cases. We did a case study of a motorcycle dealership with $400,000 in parts inventory, some of which had not turned over in more than one year. In addition they also paid “flooring” on $600,000 worth of motorcycle inventory which ran another $20,000 per month. When we were done with the analysis we recommended almost 20% less inventory of new stock and liquidating tens of thousands of dollars in parts that were not moving. After paring both these items down we were able to increase the cash flow by $5,000 per month.

Revolving debt is probably one of the necessary evils of most businesses, and allows money available as a reserve or for emergencies. As is obvious you want to pay these types of debts off quickly since they are usually expensive with a variable rate. They can be secured or unsecured lines and are fairly easy to get as long as you have credit.

Taking a good look at all these expenses and calculating the damage from all and the collective positive cash flow is the first step in analyzing your business. We have been teaching mortgage acceleration strategies since 2002 and when those same techniques are applied towards business debt the pay off period can be incredibly fast.

If any one of areas is out of line and if the cash flow is negative it is critical that you repair that as soon as possible or you will hemorrhage yourself out of business. If you are fortunate enough to have positive cash flow, then it’s smart business to work on acceleration of all those debts and get rid of them as quickly as you can.

Editor’s note- Norm has a radio show dedicated to business, real estate and finance. It is on AM830 daily between 2 and 3 in the afternoon.

TriTech Funding Conference, October 16th, Riverside

If you know an entrepreneur that is looking for money to grow their business, TriTech is hosting a Funding Conference October 16th in Riverside.

The program will cover all forms of raising debt financing and equity capital. There will be a number of Angel investors available to answers questions on how to get the start-up funds needed to launch or move a business forward.

See website for details www.TriTechSBDC.com