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Eyes Forward, Eyes Back

July.  How is that even possible???  We slugged through half of the year, most folks are considering a return to the office in some manner, everyone is back to working full time, and we haven’t seen a sourdough bread post in a really long time.

As we take stock of the first half of the year and start to turn toward planning out the rest of the year, here are some key things to consider:

  • Office Space. What are you doing?
    Are there additional costs associated with your plan going forward?  Less costs?  Remember to take these into account as you ramp up or go completely virtual or downgrade for the hybrid model.  If you need help finding space, let us know – we’ve got some great commercial realtor friends on speed dial.
  • Fringe Pool. How are your health care costs running this year?
    If you are on a self-pay plan, it might be time to take stock of how the plan is doing.  Will there be a nasty surprise at renewal time?  Start prepping now with your broker so you aren’t caught off guard.  Most brokers we know generally have more time during the summer (so many clients are on 10/1 or 1/1 renewals).  Have you reached out lately?
  • 401k. Is it part of your model?
    If you make your company contributions in chunks (i.e. not with every payroll), have you put this in your cash flow model?  While employers can take until the filing of taxes, no employee likes waiting forever for the promised match.  See if you can plan to dump the cash by year end (if only for tax planning).
  • Speaking of which…Taxes. Have you applied for forgiveness?
    It’s been a wild 18 months, especially with PPP and CARES funds.  Have you consulted with your CPA on the impact to your taxes?  Now’s the time to start modeling out a few paths forward so you know where you need to be by year end.  For the owners, time to start paying the piper in September for estimated taxes versus waiting for the crunch in January.  Painful no matter when you pay taxes but plan now.
  • Budget. How are your indirects running this year?
    Have you taken into consideration any changes to the business?  New contract awards (or losses)?  The costs mentioned above? Now is the time to assess and potentially rebaseline or plan.  Especially with those on CPFF contracts – how are you running against your billed rates?  No customer wants the surprise at the end of the year.
  • Incurred Costs Submissions. Did it get submitted to DCAA?
    Most were due on 6/30 (assuming a 12/31 fiscal year close).  There may be a little grace period here if you ask nicely…but get it done.  One less thing to worry about. If you have ICS Questions – you can catch up with our ICS Webinar replay here.
  • HR Reports. Are you ready for submissions?
    Many are due in the next few months.  Are you starting to prep for them and pull the information required.  Is someone taking the lead on filing?  Don’t just assume they will magically get done.
  • Pipeline Report. Are they updated and realistic?
    By now we’ve got a clearer view on what’s still potentially viable for the rest of the year.  If you were planning on POLARIS or CIO-SP4 revenue this year…that’s cute.  Time to scrub the low probability wins out of the report and get real clear on what’s feasible.  Are those P-wins really accurate?

Time to reassess and plan out the second part of the year.  The industry is heating up – we all are chomping at the bit to get back out on the road, see customers, employees and partners.  Take the time to do a gut check before it gets crazy. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, reach out! BOOST has a variety of partners and friends to help meet your needs.

Budgeting for 2021- Do You Get December-itis

December starts a very interesting month for those in business. It’s usually the winding-down of a calendar year with holidays, celebrations, and a chance to breathe. This year, as we already know, is one like no other. With less opportunity to party or travel it allows for the time to look ahead, set new goals, budget for the coming year, and plan for new services, products, and opportunities. But where should you start?

Luckily BOOST is seasoned in transitioning to new opportunities and building business from the last notes of Auld Lang Syne all the way through the new year. Here’s what we recommend and a hint: the main theme is Plan for Your Growth.

Budgeting:

What are the things you’ve neglected this year that you wanted to add but didn’t because of “the budget” or more importantly because of 2020? Did you skimp on marketing, hiring, or company culture building activities? Add these into the 2021 budget (if you haven’t already) to help make sure they happen. Also, over-shoot the budget just a little. Give yourself wiggle-room for hiring that stellar BD person or to celebrate new milestones that you didn’t expect to hit just yet.

Hiring:

Growth is good. Growth also means you’ll need to work on delegating some of your, or your team’s tasks to new hires. Where do you find these new hires? Great question. We recommend working with a talent acquisition team that can be dedicated in finding and delivering the best potential fit for your team. Once you’ve welcomed your new hires on day one, don’t forget about the ongoing onboarding process. Solidifying your onboarding processes prior to hiring will help you and your new employees to have a stronger (and more loyal) relationship in the long run.

Partnering:

Let’s talk lawyers, not many people like them, but everyone in business needs them. (We’re exceptionally lucky that our lawyer is amazing and if we like you, we might even share them.) Beef up your legal teams, your outsourced accounting, CPAs, bankers, your IT service professionals, and beyond to pick up the slack in places that you don’t excel. Partnering with companies who can feed you referrals and vice versa will help you to sustain growth and mitigate time spent in researching these areas before it’s a three-alarm-fire for your business. If you need recommendations across the GovCon industry, BOOST can help, just ask. We’ll be happy to make an introduction.

Planning:

Even before the planning stage you’ll need to know where you stand with your current business. Are your books in order for tax season? Do you have an updated HR Manual? How are you reaching and signing most of your clients and customers? Do you have your newly awarded contract roles filled appropriately? Knowing where you currently stand in all areas of your business will help you to plan appropriately for the future in ways you can reach and exceed.

Educating:

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know, what we don’t know. Take time to survey the landscape of what your industry is discussing and read up on the pieces that matter, but don’t quite make sense. Do you need ISO or CMMC certifications? Are you adequately maintaining a secure cyber space? Do you need a new accounting system? Join in on conversations, digital events, and information regarding the topics that matter to your business now and the future you’re looking to build.

 

Take some time this month to reassess where you are, where you’re going, and where you’d like to be. BOOST can assist with introductions, assessments, and planning for your growth to help you kick off this next year in the best way possible. Goodbye 2020 (finally), and hello future.

Whack a Mole Leadership

Perhaps it’s the chaos of 2020 or maybe we all are trying to multi-task more than ever, but I’ve seen an uptick in what I would describe as “whack-a-mole” leadership.  You know, where one week there is a push to go in one direction.  The next week, that initiative changes or falls off the radar, and we focus on another thing.  The “Squirrel!” type of attention span that your dog has.  Or your 5-year-old.

By constantly shifting focus and redirecting the team, you see the following:

  • Lack of buy in – if its changing next week, just hunker down, agree and ride it out until people stop asking about it
  • Worse…buy-in – Only to find that it’s not really a thing and then expectations and hopes are dashed. This can lead your team to NOT buy in on something really good the next time. Don’t be the boss who cries wolf too many times.
  • Burn out – If you keep moving the ball, people get exhausted trying to get to the goal.  Let’s face it, we’re all exhausted this year anyway. This isn’t to say that if you meet your previously set goals that you shouldn’t keep moving. Just don’t pick up the finish line before the team has a chance to get there.
  • Lack of results – Everything is half done/half-implemented/half thought through.  Nothing is completed and nothing is moving, which means no one is making money.
  • Higher multiplier – Generally, this means lots of time on Overhead or G&A, driving your wrap rate up while not getting the results or efficiencies that you were probably striving for.

2020 continues to be a hell of a year.  It does require changing quickly, figuring out what works and dumping what doesn’t efficiently.  That doesn’t mean that you can reverse course on absolutely everything. Foundations need to remain intact and stronger than ever. It’s hard to see what the next month brings, much less next year.  But while you do have to stay agile, you also need to be thinking longer term as we start edging closer to 2021 and budgeting/goal setting for next year. If you’re looking for a push in the right direction, connect with Stephanie and let’s see where you can shift focus toward a more efficient direction.

 

The word of the quarter is: FOCUS!

Puzzle Me This

As puzzles are back in vogue these days, I thought this might be of interest. Unfortunately, I’ve only had the opportunity to complete one over the past few weeks, but several themes rang true as I worked on it. Puzzling (is that what we call it?) makes you go through several stages, much like the business circle of life.

At first, puzzles are exciting. You find all the outside pieces, you put the four corners in a special place.

Startups are exciting!
You have a new mission, it’s constantly evolving, you get to make things up as you go along. The world of possibilities is endless.

You compile the outer ring and you start to feel like you can really do this.

You’ve got your first clients.
You are starting to hit your stride on marketing and hiring. You start to fill in some infrastructure. You hire your first BD person, your first C-Suite.

Then, the grind hits. You must keep at the puzzle. What seemed easy 100 pieces ago is suddenly very monotonous (for me, it’s always the sky portion!). The buzz wears off.

Months bleed into years.
Your offerings may change or expand, as does your client base. But the excitement starts to leave and the magnitude of what you want to accomplish and how hard you have to work hits you.

You find yourself trying the same pieces in the same spots, over and over. And they don’t fit. Yet you keep trying, expecting different answers. You find that you can’t see the forest for the trees (or the entire picture for the one area you are working on).

You lose focus on what’s important.
You can get caught up in the tactical, day to day without your eye on the exit plan. You may retain team members that you had from the beginning but no longer fit or they aren’t in the right positions. You know you have to pivot but you aren’t quite sure how. You feel like you are stuck in one place.

Through it all, you keep trudging along and the puzzle slowly comes together. Big chunks get done and you start to feel accomplished. You feel like you are working on the big picture and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll get stuck a few times, but you know that you will make it through. Pieces that you didn’t think would fit actually do. All it took was a different perspective.

Did you read that? All it took was a different perspective.

Right team in the right places.
Corporate culture that aligns. Everyone is focused on the mission and works together.

Finally, you complete the puzzle. A sense of reward, a sense of accomplishment. In my case, I turn it over to someone else to put it away, not wanting to personally break up what I worked so hard on.

This is different for everyone.
It may be the big sale, it could be a purchase of another company, it could be an ESOP or Management Buy Out. You could decide to step down as the CEO and let someone else run it.

And then you consider your next puzzle.

Or your next opportunity.
Entrepreneurs at heart always have another company they’d like to start or will serve on boards or as advisors for those that want to start their own thing. We are a community that pays it forward.

What stage of the puzzle are you in with your current company? If you’re in the “grind” or “focus” section and you’re looking to get to the next phase we’re poised to help you prep. Change IS coming and preparing for it now is your best course of action. We have virtual support while you need it and on-the-ground professionals when the new-normal resumes. Contact us, and let’s discuss.

Leading Through Uncertainty

We know what you’re thinking. “Not another #COVID19 article.” Not to worry, we’re providing you some insight on how you can lead your team through the next few weeks (or months?).

Let us start off by saying “Who gives a s#*t?”  To put it bluntly, if this is the first time you are talking to your clients, you are screwed.  No one cares how you are handling it – they care about how they are handling it.  People are scared. This black swan event is one that no one prepared for. Right now we are all trying to figure out how to keep the doors open.

What can you do as a leader?

First, chill out.  Meditate, go for walks, stress bake, or figure out what your go-to is for reducing your stress. This will help you act insightfully and rationally, not out of fear. Get real clear real quick as your level head is needed now more than ever.

Second, take a step back. What is the short-term impact to your company?  What is the state of your cash flow situation?  How long can you keep running and at what pace? (I won’t go into how you should have already known this through good business acumen. We’ll save that for another day). Figure out the next week. Then the next pay cycle. Then the next month.  Day by day, week by week, piece by piece.

Third, look for areas to pivot quickly and where you can exploit opportunities. (By exploit we don’t mean nefariously, only above-board ideas please.) What can you leverage quickly to keep your business afloat?  Where can you pursue leads with limited effort to increase sales or revenue?  Where can you cut costs?

Costs are always the easiest – it’s finding new revenue sources that requires creativity, forward-thinking and leadership.  Before you start cutting everything, what can grow with minimal investment?

Finally, lead like your business depends on it.  Because it does.  Now is not a time to delegate to your surrogates.  Now is not a time to not answer hard questions.  Now is the time to show your business what you are made of.  Even if you’re closing your doors or laying people off, the way and manner that you choose to do it will be remembered.  If you are an entrepreneur at heart, you will take another shot at it in the future.

 

Who knows? You may even pivot to a new business model and revenue stream that only enhances your business AND keeps your employees employed. People will remember how you handled your business during these times. Don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do.

 

Stay sane.
Exploit opportunities.
Lead from the front.
Act with kindness and grace.

 

Accidental CEO

What’s an accidental CEO?  Are you one?

You may or may not know the type.  They’ve spun out of government or a large integrator and had a good consulting gig as a 1099.  They are well connected with their customer (they used to be colleagues) and they deliver.  Since they can deliver, they are asked for additional resources.   They, in turn, hire their trusted network.  Within a few years, they’ve built a 10-20 person show churning $2-10M.

Everything is sunshine for a bit.  The SME/CEO is still billable, doing what they love.

Inevitably, the business side of the business rears up.  The SME finds themselves running a company of highly technical folks, spending most of their time on administrative tasks – cash flow projections, recruiting, contracts, minutia.  They spend less time on customer delivery and more on the day-to-day running of the company.  Their customer becomes frustrated as the SME can’t deliver the same level of service.  The employees become frustrated as their trusted colleague is always busy with other tasks and is often unavailable.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the SME-turned-CEO wakes up wondering how things got to this state.  They hate their day-to-day life.  They hate not delivering to the customer and find themselves questioning why they are running a company.

If this sounds like you, let me be the first to tell you the following:

  1. You are not alone, by a long shot
  2. It’s not uncommon at all
  3. You need to decide on your path forward before you completely lose it

There are several options that can move you out of this state, but before you can move forward, you have to take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself what you want out of your career and what success looks like to you.  For some, it’s a dollar figure in their checking account.  For others, it’s flexibility in working on high-value work.  Still for others, it’s in cultivating a culture that they want.  Regardless of the answer, knowing your definition of success can help guide your path.

Admittedly this is a difficult step to take (aren’t all first steps that way?). Luckily you don’t have to go it alone. BOOST has the resources, personnel, and experience to help guide you through this process. Whether it be executive coaching in the form of mentoring or strategic planning from a whole-business perspective, BOOST can help. Let’s sit down over coffee and discuss your next steps. [email protected]