July 2015: Small Business Success

Continually assess your risk levels

Columnist Sarah O'Connell

Columnist Sarah O’Connell

One of the questions that usually appears in one of those “Are You an Entrepreneur?” quizzes is, “Are you comfortable with taking risks?” I think it’s a fairly common perception that risk is inherent in starting up or expanding your own business. [Read more…]

July 2015: Business Tech Bytes

Apple vs. Android battle heats up

Columnist Jill Van Hoesen

Columnist Jill Van Hoesen

Are you an Android or an Apple? I am personally a Google girl and pretty excited about the new redesigned Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones that were recently released. They are pretty slick and have generated a lot of interest, with “Samsung placing orders for an additional million units to over 8 million,” according to a March report in the Electronic Times newspaper of Korea. [Read more…]

July 2015: Commerce Corner

Health care summit set for August

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

According to the New York State of Health, as of Jan. 31, 2014, slightly fewer than 1.9 million individuals have completed the application process compared with what was reported by the New York State of Health on April 16, 2014, when more than 1.3 million individuals had completed the application process and there 960,762 were enrolled in the Health Care Exchange. In 2015, so far there have been more than 250,000 enrollees. Access to health insurance is becoming easier for individuals. So is this a sign that the state’s exchange is working? [Read more…]

July 2015: Strategic Planning

Easy should be the last thing you do

Columnist Paul Luck

Columnist Paul Luck

I just listed a house for sale, something we have done many times over the course of my career before we finally “arrived” back in the north country; so this is not a new experience. And yet, despite that fact, I find that we tend to forget what we should have learned to do long ago. Our Realtor, a trusted advisor, offered a few suggestions: repair this, replace that, address some clutter: things that we have seen day-in and day-out until we did not even realize they were there. In this instance, we took her advice. Better that than take a risk and miss an offer.

Funny thing: once the suggestions were addressed, we are enjoying the house a little bit more. And we hope the house will be even more attractive to potential buyers. There were times that we did more — a lot more — to a property on the eve of being transferred, like landscaping or painting the house. We called it “fixing it up for the next guy.” And we seldom got to enjoy the improvements since we were definitely moving.

The human condition being what it is, these lessons can apply to so many other facets of life. As a business owner, you likely experience certain things so often that you don’t even realize they exist. And have you ever had a trusted advisor suggest some changes that you know are right on target and not act on them? Why is that? Sadly, in the course of operating a business day-to-day, it is all too easy to focus on what is familiar, easy and for today than it is to embrace what is unfamiliar and hard but important for tomorrow. It’s the focus on tomorrow that will build value, make your life more rewarding and take risks out of your business.

Some examples:

EASY: Make all the important, and maybe not so important, decisions yourself. HARD: Build a strong, capable management team that can operate smoothly without you. Maybe you could actually take a few days off without the place imploding. If the plan is for your business to die with you, then maybe this isn’t important. If you want your business to survive you, or you plan to sell it, this must be a priority.

EASY: Base your relationship with your partner on a handshake. You’ve known her for a long time. What could go wrong? HARD: Develop a formal, written buy-sell agreement describing the terms to buy the other out in the event of a departure, death, disability, disagreement, divorce, etc. Fund it with insurance. Otherwise, get ready for your next, maybe unknown, partner.

EASY: Focus your sales to just a few customers and on a few good products. Oh, and just sell within a 50-mile radius. HARD: Cultivate many customers, offer a full line of products over a broad area with no reliance on any single one.

EASY: Check the cash account every day to see how much is there, whether you can make payroll and then choose which bills to pay. HARD: Know how much cash you have and forecast what will be needed and when.

EASY: Live with unknowns. If you ignore them, they will go away. HARD: Have confidence that you know all the risks in your business.

EASY: Hope the business survives as long as you need it to. And that you can sell it for enough to retire like you want. HARD: Have a current calculation of value for the business and know how much more valuable your business could be if risks were managed.

EASY: Look in the mirror for all the answers. After all, you’re a handsome lad; who else could know better? HARD: Assemble a team of trusted advisors who can provide a fresh assessment of your business.

And the list goes on …

If you do just one of these, I guarantee you will sleep better. The more you do, the better your business will perform. You’ll enjoy it more and the hard will become easy.

Risks exist in every business. Risks impair value. Knowing and managing risks increase profits and business value, for you and the next guy who buys it.

As for the house, we’re just selling, not moving. So the next time you’re in Clayton, give me a call. That’s not so hard.

Paul Luck is a principal partner in The Succession Partners, Clayton. Contact him at (315) 778-5257 or PaulLuck@thesuccessionpartners.com.

July 2015: Entrepreneur’s Edge

The good, the bad and the ugly

Columnist Joleene Moody

Columnist Joleene Moody

I have a very low tolerance for people who say, “I can’t.” Or, “He won’t let me.” Or, “I’m too old.” This attitude is likely going to get me stabbed in the eye or pushed off a rocky cliff and I get that. But let’s face it, if I don’t say it out loud then you won’t. And if you’re an entrepreneur, you know exactly what I’m talking about. [Read more…]

July 2015: Nonprofit Edge

Philanthropy’s reward beyond money

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Columnist Rande Richardson

Columnist Rande Richardson

Many of us have our first experience of giving as young children. For me, it was the act of putting two quarters in a Sunday School envelope and placing it in the offering plate. The experience of giving is a tradition that often becomes an integral part of life. It can be much like enjoying a good book, listening to favorite music, working in the garden or taking a walk. While we must be responsible and practical in our giving, it also is a journey, an evolving part of who we are and one way we define our lives. [Read more…]

July 2015: Nonprofit Toolkit

Commit to making a real difference

Columnist Bob Gorman

Columnist Bob Gorman

Which businesses relentlessly provide financial support to area nonprofits and other local causes? [Read more…]

July 2015: Agri-Business

Meat plant builds local ag capacity

Columnist Jay Matteson

Columnist Jay Matteson

It is exciting to possibly have a USDA-certified meat-processing facility coming to Jefferson County. Since the 2002 Jefferson County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Plan was completed, several of the agencies serving the agricultural industry in Jefferson County have investigated the potential for a plant and proposals from developers. [Read more…]

June 2015: Agri-Business

Manure lagoons: Fact or fiction?

Columnist Jay Matteson

Columnist Jay Matteson

With a strong dynamic agricultural industry based on livestock, one question always rises, how do farms manage the manure livestock produce? We are fortunate in Northern New York that we have a strong viable and successful agricultural industry that creates jobs and supports our schools and communities. About 200 dairy farms in Jefferson County provide more than 600 million pounds of milk a year to our dairy manufacturers, employ nearly 1,000 people and support our local schools and municipalities through the large amount of taxes they pay. [Read more…]

June 2015: Small Business Success

Business networking with Facebook

Columnist Jennifer McCluskey

Columnist Jennifer McCluskey

One of the benefits of running a business in the North Country is being able to build strong face-to-face networking connections with others living in your small town. I often attend business networking groups, chamber of commerce events, shows, and the like where business owners interact together to build both their businesses and the communities. After one of these groups approached me recently to create a presentation about networking with each other through Facebook, I realized that this is an area that may be lacking in our business community. How can these businesses who have formed strong relationships with each other in-person continue to build on their networking with social media? [Read more…]