Friday, June 30, 2017

Hispanic Chamber's women leadership conference draws its largest crowd to date

Source: (Houston Chronicles Newspaper)

Created with flickr slideshow.

More than 600 women of all ages, races and industries, and a few men, packed the hallways of the Royal Sonesta Hotel at the third and largest Women's Leadership Conference and Business Expo presented by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Leaders, in the fields of banking, health care, engineering, media, education and more offered up advice on how women can succeed in their careers, seek financing for their own business and generally how to self brand themselves and their work.

"Times have changed. There's more potential for women looking to get ahead," said Hilda Almazan, a full-time volunteer at the YES Prep Gulfton charter school.

Almazan, 43, came to this year's gathering with pen and notebook in hand to take notes she could then share with the working mothers she knows that were unable to attend.

Laura Murillo, president and CEO, of the Hispanic Chamber, said she came up with the idea for the conference three years ago after traveling the world as a representative of Houston on trade missions. On these travels, she said she would often be one of only a handful of women invited.

"The bottom line is that there is room for women at the table," Murillo said.

According to the chamber, women-owned businesses in the Houston metro area account for more than 30 percent of all local businesses and generate over $40 billion in annual revenue year over year.

Friday's conference drew in many of these local leading women including panelists Gay Nord, president of Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center; Sandy Asch, author and principal at Alliance for Organizational Excellence; Gina Luna, former chairman of JP Morgan Chase's Houston operations; and Kelly Showalter, research manager at Shell International Exploration and Production to name a few.

Panel topics included using LinkedIn in for networking, the pros and cons of seeking out executive coaching, the multiple services available at credit unions, the importance of work life balance especially for new moms seeking to ascend within their profession, and the general need for resilience in the face of adversity.

"Avoid getting trapped in the nonsense of every day," Asch said. "Keep your focus and ask yourself, 'who am I committed to being today'?"

For Beatrice Esparza, 63, who works in shipping and receiving at Electronic Assembly Services Inc., the event felt motivating. While her boss had been the last two iterations of the conference, this was Esparza's first time.

"I see why she wants to come to this," she said.

A big takeaway for her personally was panelists' talk on the importance of engaging in social media as the business world, and society overall, is becoming increasingly reliant on technology.

Samira Mahdejian, 39, one of the owners of Katy Furniture, said it was uplifting to see how far women have come in the workforce since the 50s.

Hilda Almazan's 14-year-old daughter, Mariel, one of the youngest attendees at this year's conference, said she was impressed and inspired by the number of professional working women around her.

Though at first Mariel, who wants to work as an engineer in the fields of animation, film and design, felt slightly intimidated at the idea of attending a business focused event, she pulled out her safety net: a deck of playing cards.

"I don't have a business card," she said, "but I can impress people with my magic tricks."

She proceeded to perform a few slights of hand on an empty table drawing a crowd of curious onlookers who introduced themselves, and their businesses.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Visit Houston


Facts and Figures

Houston's mix of international appeal and Southern charm have captured the imagination of tastemakers the world over. Read on for a few insider facts on the nation's fourth largest city.


At 655 square miles, the City of Houston could contain the cities of New York, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis and Miami.

Houston, with 2.2 million residents, is the fourth most populous city in the United States, trailing only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The city is the largest in the South and the Southwest. 

Houston is the nation’s demographic future. In racial and ethnic composition, the Houston of today very much resembles the U.S. 40 years hence.

38.8% Anglo

35.9% Hispanic

16.7% African American

6.7% Asian/Other

1.6% Other

More than 145 different languages are spoken in Houston. That's the third largest number of languages spoken in a U.S. city behind New York (192) and LA (185). More than a third of Houstonians older than five speak a language other than English at home.

Just under 30% of the population over the age of 25 holds a bachelor's degree or higher.

Houston has a very young population. Approximately 22.6% of residents are age 5 to 19, the largest population segment.


Houston ranks first among U.S. cities where paychecks stretch the furthest, according to Forbes. 

Houston is home to the second largest concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in the country (49) behind New York (72).


Love City: Houston is deemed the No. 1 city in America for young couples in new study, according to a study by Credit Donkey (2014). 

Houston was ranked among the top places to visit in 2015 by the Boston Globe,Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. 

BusinessInsider ranked Houston the Best City in America in 2014.


Houston rates first among the nation’s 10 most populous cities in total acreage of parkland and third behind only San Diego and Dallas in park acreage per capita, according to a study by The Trust for Public Land.

Houston was named one of the 10 greenest cities in the U.S. by The Trust for Public Land indicated that of the nation's 10 most populous cities, none had more total park space than Houston with 56,405 acres. Houston 's 27.2 acres per 1,000 residents ranks second only to San Diego.

The City of Houston offers more than 300-mile interconnected bikeway network spread over 500 square miles and more than 128 miles of hike and bike trails that loop within its parks or are linear and run along bayous and outside park boundaries.

Harris County offers 45 hike and bike trails totaling 228.8 miles.


More than 2.4 million foreign travelers came to Houston in 2014, the most recent year for which data exists. The vast majority of those travelers came from Mexico.

International trade directly or indirectly supports more than one-third of all jobs in the Houston metropolitan area.

Ninety-two foreign governments have official representation here through consulates or trade offices, ranking Houston's consular corps third in the nation. 

Houston has 17 sister city relationships promoting business opportunities across five continents: Australia (1), Asia (6), Europe (7), Africa (1) and Americas (2).

Fourteen foreign governments maintain trade and commercial offices here, and the city has 32 active foreign chambers of commerce and trade associations.

Bush Intercontinental Airport offers non-stop service to more than 70 international destinations.

Hobby Airport completed construction on an International Terminal in 2015 and began service to Mexico and Latin America through Southwest Airlines. It now serves more than 55 destinations.

The Texas Medical Center sees an annual average of 16,000 International patient visits.


Houston received approximately 17.5 million visitors in 2015, according to the most recent data available. 

Visitors to Houston spent $17 billion in 2014 and the industry supports more than 123,000 jobs. 

Houston has more than 80,000 hotel rooms with approximately 8,000 located downtown.

The Houston Airport System (George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport) handled 55 million passengers in 2015.


With more than 4.4 million square feet of convention space, metro Houston ranks at the top of American cities when comparing convention venues. 

In 2014, Houston hosted 364 conventions, events and shows that drew 774,152 attendees to Houston, translating into an economic impact of $485 million, based on attendance.

The city is set to host the NCAA Final Four in 2016 and the NFL's Super Bowl LI in 2017.


Texas has 20 cultural districts, of which 6 are in Houston (Texas Commission on the Arts).

Houston’s cultural events and exhibitions report 9.2 million visits per year.

Houston’s nonprofit arts organizations support 14,115 full-time jobs locally. An additional 12,192 professional artists call Houston their home. In total, 29,729 jobs are sustained by the city’s nonprofit arts industry.

Houston is one of only a few U.S. cities with resident professional companies in the four disciplines of the performing arts: ballet, opera, symphony and theater.

Houston has more than 500 institutions devoted to the performing and visual arts, science and history in the Houston area.

Theater Facts:

Houston Ballet: Hailed by The New York Times as " of the nation's best ballet companies"

The Alley Theatre has staged more than 25 world premieres in its history.

Houston Grand Opera: Only opera company in the world with Grammy, Tony and Emmy awards.

Theatre Under the Stars is one of the largest nonprofit producers of musical theater in America.

Museum Facts:

One of the largest museum districts in the country with 20 museums and institutions within walking distance.

Children’s Museum of Houston is the highest attended youth museum in the country for its size and rated No. 1 in the country by Parents magazine. 

The Houston Zoo welcomed over 2.55 million visitors in 2016, making it the No. 1 attraction in Houston and the No. 2 most-visited zoo in the country.

The Menil Collection: Considered one of the most important private collections of the 20th century.

The Health Museum: Most visited health museum in the country.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: The largest art museum in the Southwest United States.

Rothko Chapel: The only ecumenical center of its kind in the world.


The Greater Houston area has 14 major institutions of higher learning and more than 60 degree-granting colleges, universities and technical schools. 
Houston (Rice University) is the birthplace of nanotechnology.

Rice University ranked first among "30 Best Values in Small Colleges" and the "30 Best College Values in the West/Southwest" according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine (2014).

Tier One research universities in the Houston region include: Rice University, the University of Houston and Texas A&M University. 

The region has some 100 trade, vocational and business schools. 

Tier One research universities in the Houston region include: Rice University, University of Houston and Texas A&M University.


For four generations, the Hamilton family has made high-quality men’s shirts for high-end stores like Barneys New York from a Richmond Avenue storefront.

Elaine Turner has built a thriving accessories business from her Houston headquarters. Today, her designs are carried in more than 200 specialty stores, at Turner’s boutiques, online and Nordstrom.

Project Runway winner Chloe Dao has created a popular clothing line from her boutique Dao Chloe Dao (formerly Lot 8).

Fashion designer and native Houstonian Cesar Galindo is recognized worldwide for his cocktail and evening wear collections, which have appeared in print, television, film and the runway of New York Fashion Week.


Houston is considered to have one of the best culinary scenes in the country, with cuisine from around the world. There are more than 10,000 restaurants in the Houston area with culinary choices that represent more than 70 countries and American regions.

Houstonians dine out more than residents of any other city—4.1 times per week, compared with the national average of 3.1. The average meal in Houston—$35.57—is less than the national average of $40.53, according to Zagat. lists roughly 390 vegan friendly restaurants, 38 farm to table restaurants and 215 food trucks in Houston.


Houston is home to Johnson Space Center, the training base and home for our nation's astronauts and the site of Mission Control. For more than three decades, JSC has been the world leader in human space flight operations for NASA. Over 3,000 men and women began their careers in this facility.

Houston is home to Space Center Houston, the official visitor center of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, which is NASA's center for spaceflight activities.

In 1969, "Houston" was the first word spoken from the moon. The Apollo 11 mission established a place in history for the city when astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke the now-famous line, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

Space Center Houston is the home of the international landmark Independence Plaza, the only place in the world where you can enter a space shuttle replica resting on top of the original shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905. The exhibit immerses visitors in the science and history of the shuttle era and gives them a rare glimpse into the ingenuity, breakthroughs and technological advances which impacted the future of exploration. Only at Space Center Houston can visitors walk through the flight deck, mid-deck and payload bay of a shuttle replica and the seven dynamic areas within the aircraft.


Hollywood directors frequently film in Houston because of the vastly diverse terrain and unique locations found in the Greater Houston area, from the urban landscape seen in Jason’s Lyric and Reality Bites to the NASA favorites Apollo 13, Armageddonand Space Cowboys.

In fact, Houston’s varied topography can sometimes be unrecognizable. Who would have guessed that the lush, green landscape on the Rushmore campus was not filmed in New England but in Houston just 10 minutes from downtown? Or that Houston doubled for Arlington, Virginia in the thriller Arlington Road?

Other blockbusters filmed in Houston:
Terms of Endearment
Evening Star
RoboCop 2
Tin Cup
Flags of Our Fathers
Mao’s Last Dancer
Tree of Life


Texas Medical Center (TMC) with 21 renowned hospitals—including M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the No. 1 cancer hospital in the country — 13 support organizations, eight academic and research institutions, six nursing programs, three public health organizations, three medical schools, two universities, two pharmacy schools and dental school—is the largest medical complex in the world.

The TMC handles approximately 7.2 million patient visits annually and 106,000 employees..

More heart surgeries are performed in the Texas Medical Center than anywhere else in the world.

The first successful human heart transplant was performed in Houston by Dr. Denton Cooley (1968).

77030, the Texas Medical Center Zip code, is home to 21,000 physicians, scientists, researchers and other advanced degree professionals in the life sciences at 385 medical offices, the highest concentration in the country.

Houston’s Memorial Hermann Hospital is the birth place of Life Flight™ (1976).


1836: On April 21, General Sam Houston's army wins Texas' Independence from Mexico in the Battle of San Jacinto.
1836: Houston founded on Aug. 30 by brothers Augustus C. and John K. Allen, who pay just over $1.40 per acre for 6,642 acres near headwaters of Buffalo Bayou.
1837: General Sam Houston, first president of the Republic of Texas, signs an act authorizing Houston to incorporate. Houston is capital of the Republic from 1837-1839.
1853: Houston's first railroad - the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos & Colorado Railroad - begins operations.
1868: Houston's first trolley cars (mule-drawn) appear.
1899: First Houston city park opens. (This site, now Sam Houston Park, contains several of Houston's earliest buildings.
1912: Rice Institute (now Rice University) begins classes.
1913: Houston Symphony is established.
1914: The 25-foot-deep Houston Ship Channel is completed and formally dedicated.
1924: Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the first fine arts museum in Texas, opens
1932: First Houston Fat Stock Show & Rodeo (now Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo) held.
1943: Texas Medical Center is founded.
1962: NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center moves to Houston.
1969: Houston Intercontinental Airport begins operations.
1969: "Houston" is the first word spoken from the lunar surface.
1970: The Galleria opens.
2004: Houston's first modern rail line - 7.5 miles long - begins operations.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Top 10 Women Owned Business Facts


From The 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express OPEN.
The 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report is now available. WBENC shares our top 10 data trends noted in the report.

There are now 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues.

Women-owned businesses now comprise 38% of the business population, employ 8% of the country’s private sector workforce and contribute 4% of the nation’s business revenues.

Since 2007, there have been 1,072 net new women-owned firms launched each and every day.

Between 2007 and 2016, while the total number of firms increased by 9%, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45% – meaning that over this period the number of women-owned firms grew at a rate fully five times the national average.

The number of women of color who have launched their own business has more than doubled since 2007, to nearly 5 million. They comprise fully 44% of all women-owned firms.

The average minority woman-owned business annual revenues are less than half that of the average non-minority women-owned firm. Overall, women-owned businesses average $143,431 in annual revenue, with non-minority women-owned firms averaging $201,948 in annual revenues and minority women-owned firms averaging $68,982.

Although the share of women-owned firms keeps climbing – from 28% in 2002 to 38% today – their share of employment (8%) and revenues (4%) remains essentially unchanged.

Despite broadening industry diversity over the past two decades, since the 2008 recession the industries with the greatest share of new women-owned firms are in some of the most historically traditional sectors for women:
Other services (which includes hair and nail salons, up 98% compared to 45% overall);
Administrative, support and waste management services (home to janitorial and landscaping businesses, +64%); and
Accommodation and food services (+62%).

9. Since the recession, the 10 fastest-growing states for women-owned firms are:
Florida (up 67%)
Georgia (64%)
Texas (63%)
Michigan (57%)
Mississippi (56%)
South Carolina (53%)
Tennessee (53%)
The District of Columbia (51%)
South Dakota (50%)
Louisiana (49%)

10. Since the recession, the 10 fastest-growing states in terms of combined economic clout are:
North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas (all tied for first),
Indiana and Wyoming (tied for 5th)
Georgia and Tennessee (tied for 7th)

Past success is often an indicator of future complacency.

Former Journalist, Current PR Guy (wielding an MBA)

JUNIO 23, 2017

A few years back, I decided I wanted to run a full marathon before I turned 40.

I downloaded a training app, closely followed it and subsequently completed my first 26.2 mile distance within the top half of finishers for my age group, all with beaucoup energy and very little muscle or joint discomfort. I followed the same plan for five months and had a similar outcome with my second full marathon.

In hindsight, those two experiences were analogous to successfully finishing a large project or initiative on time, under budget with the desired optimal outcome. I then decided that “marathoning” would be my hobby.

Things changed six months later when I ran my third marathon. It took me nearly seven hours to finish that race. That was more than three hours longer than my fastest race -- a productivity loss of more than 40 percent. I was one of the very last people to limp across the finish line. Every joint and muscle in my body ached. Further, I was 20 pounds heavier running that third race than the previous ones.

What happened? My early successes undermined my future objectives, resulting in diminished performance. Here are five productivity lessons learned from that experience.

1. Past productivity gains don’t guarantee future results.

I mistakenly believed that simply committing to running the third race, coupled with my “proven” past success, would be enough. That was simply untrue. As a result of that flawed thinking, I didn’t engage in the necessary strength and interval training to improve my pace and performance, which significantly hindered my abilities.

No matter how successful you've been how many times before, it’s important to conduct the necessary due diligence and preparation to acquire the correct skills for the desired outcome.

2. Adaptability is important but often overlooked. 

From the elevation to the terrain surface to the weather and number of runners, every marathon is different. My modest success completing two marathons had lulled me into the idea that 26.2 miles is the same everywhere. The hills of Baltimore shattered that myth for me.

It’s critically important to remember that each project is distinct, offering different productivity opportunities packed with its own challenges.

3. Desired outputs require the proper inputs. 

For most of my adult life I’ve been 10-20 pounds overweight when compared to body mass index charts for my height. During the training for my first two marathons I ate more and healthier fuel than normal to sustain my higher energy output.

When it came to the third race, however, I had started eating more empty calories and processed foods which hindered my training to the point that I had gained almost 20 during the six month “training” period leading up to the marathon. 

Honestly, I didn’t notice the weight gain and attributed it to “Runger” or runner’s hunger -- a false belief that my running output exceeded my feeding inputs. That wasn’t the case.

The takeaway here is that every project, job or initiative requires the best inputs whether it’s data, information or resources to ensure the best outputs and chance for success.

4. Honest, ongoing assessments are critical.

Most marathon training programs include, from beginning to end, two or three runs during the week of less than six miles. These “maintenance” runs keep the body primed for the long runs that build a mile or two on the weekends, usually maxing out at 20 miles per run right before the actual marathon.

Training for the third race, I shrugged off most of the long distance runs on the weekend. I had deceived myself into thinking that I didn’t need to adhere to the program so closely since I’d already run 26.2 miles -- twice. That was foolish, and my body paid for it for several weeks following that third race.

This showcases the need to be honest with yourself and your team the moment problems start arising on a project or job, as you work to identify corrective measures and implement them as soon as possible so as not to jeopardize the final results.

5. Ongoing productivity gains require mental toughness.

Statistics show that less than 2 percent of the population will ever complete a marathon, mainly because endurance running requires a lot of physical and mental discipline.

For my first two races, I was more mentally prepared than I was physically. That’s the only way you can get your body to continue moving through the fatigue and aches of long runs. However, my mental toughness dropped for the third race because I had adopted a lazy “been there, done that” mentality. That hurt my performance. I was not prepared mentally or physically for that race.

Avoiding this problem requires a conscious effort to focus your will, attention and effort toward the completion of a project or program. Without mental toughness, productivity gains suffer.

The post script to this story is that my botched third marathon served as a painful wake call. Since then I’ve gotten back on track to complete four more full marathons and at least 10 half marathons, and I’ve kept off those pesky extra 20 pounds of excess race weight.

Although physically painful to learn, I’m living proof that these productivity lessons can help you “run the good race” – both figuratively and literally.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

You Can't Sell Your Way Out of Operational Problems in Your Business


Posted by Stephen King on May 20, 2017

Many CEO’s have the mistaken belief that they can sell their way out of operational or cash flow problems. We all love sales, but you want to be sure you are selling to the ‘right’ clients for long-term growth, and that you are reaching your gross profit margins to improve cash flow.

Cash flow issues can lead to bad decision-making like accepting any client, even ‘bad’ ones, just to simply secure a sale, or pricing decisions by lowering prices to get the demanding client. If you are experiencing operational problems, sales won’t fix what is causing that either, so it is important to look at your leading indicators. 

You can only sell your way to success and solve your problems IF you are selling good business, and if you understand your KPI’s to profitability. 


Clients that help your business achieve your target margin fall in the “Good Money Client” category. They have a good relationship with you and feel like they’re paying for a service and results they wouldn’t have been able to achieve on their own. You’re happy and so are they!

On the other hand, you have clients that are perpetually unhappy no matter what you offer them. They drag your business down it’s not easy to get out of what soon becomes a downward spiral including decreasing margins. The amount of energy and resources you need to put into a bad fit client is seldom worth the effort. If you have cash flow issues, you can be tempted to close less than optimal business, but this will almost always comes back to bite you. Margins, productivity, profits and cash flow can be impacted in many ways not to mention keeping your most valuable assets - your employees - happy.

Focus on “Selling” – Selling to the “Right” Client

Only by focusing on the profitability of all your projects, customers and your jobs are you able to understand your most lucrative industries and businesses. To bring in clients that add value to your business, spend time on studying and understanding the services you offer that are most profitable. But hold that thought! Do not make the mistake of confusing the largest client you have with the one that is most profitable.

Business owners always know the largest clients on their books but when asked who their most profitable clients are, the answer almost always is “I don’t really know” or “How do I go about finding that?” This is because they are not tracking the true cost of resources and materials required to do a job and are unable to see the true profitability of a customer. This translates back to them not knowing that sometimes their bigger clients could actually be their lowest margin clients.

Unless there is a strategic value to having a big name client, who probably doesn’t pay in the time frame your business requires, selling more of those will only push you deeper into a cash flow hole. Whereas, if you knew which of your smaller clients generated more profits versus just revenue, you are in a better position to make decisions, which involve directing your Salesforce to target a particular industry, service and thereby adding the most value to the right target market.

Businesses that see growth are the ones that focus on selling to good clients. They have an ideal client profile they sell against - targeting industries, company size, company lifecycle stage, and buyer and user demographics and psychographics. They put their sales focus on finding more of these ideal fit clients.

Businesses should continually analyze their client base and should let go of low-margin clients and replace them with high margin clients where possible.. This helps maximize profits and get the most out of your people.

Problems and Decisions

In our recent blog, How Cash Flow Problems Cause Business Owners to Make Bad Decisions, we discussed these three critical decision areas in more detail:

Having decision ready financial reports at your fingertips provides you with access to profitability by customer and by job (or by the way you want to see it). If you bill by person, look at the profitability by person. If you bill by team, then make that the focus.

Hiring a new employee is adding a fixed cost to your business. The fastest way to increase your profitability is to let your lowest profitable client(s) go and replace them with new high margin clients. This way you are getting a higher amount of revenue from the same number of people.

Taking educated and calculated risks are the way to go and you can take those risks if you track valuable KPIs over the course of the year as well as have access to pertinent financial reports.

Real Life Examples

A great case study example is ChiefOutsiders. We were able to help them understand their profitability by partner/CMO, by city, by state, by region and by the company. Each individual CMO can now see their profitability and what they’re contributing to the company. Each City Manager can view which CMO’s are the most profitable. The Regional Managers then not only get to compare all the profitable cities in their region, but they also get to isolate the ones that are least profitable. This information is immensely valuable to the CEO on the Executive team who can look across the country and compare the Coasts as well as the Central regions. 

Another case study example is Liberty Pipeline where we needed to make sure to include all hidden costs, time and leakage associated. What are hidden costs? They can be Project Managers that are in the corporate office working on planning, scheduling and staffing. This cost needs to be a part of your bid since it is the cost of doing the job. It could also be employees performing quality control in which case you need to ensure that their time is being billed. If travel is involved to the customers and jobs, recover those costs by including travel time in your bid. Keep in mind that you may not get full value for these but it is essential that they not be left out when you are pricing your jobs.


First making sure you have studied past jobs, especially ones that had lower margins, and that your pricing includes all the costs you will incur on a job. It’s important to understand the reasons behind the lower margins. Did you include the right estimate details for the job? Was the estimate for a certain job 10 hours but in reality it took 15 hours? This information is necessary before you work on the next job, since you will need to include the additional hours in your next proposal.

You can’t and should not try to sell your way out of business problems. Operational issues need to be addressed at the source and increasing sales will likely only exacerbate them. Cash flow issues may seem more likely to be eased by increasing sales - but only if you are selling “good business” to opportunities that fit your ideal client profile and who are likely to turn into high profit margin clients.

Monday, June 19, 2017

¿Como mejorar la utilidad y productividad de su negocio? Radio interview # 4, KYST 920 AM with Enrique Noriega.

What is financial management? The planning, directing, organizing, monitoring and controlling of the monetary resources of an organization. Adequate financial management is not only to match and report numbers, but also to make intelligent and strategic decisions in your company. Businesses generally have accurate reporting of their transactions, but due to inefficient or non-existent financial and business management, they produced less of a profit.

STC supports you with financial business solutions so you can find and correct inefficiencies (many times almost unnoticed but with significant impact) and strengthening your business. For more information, see videos and photos attached. (interview in Spanish)

Many thanks to Matthew Cruz Velasquez for inviting me again to participate in radio program: “Finance, Business & Insurance” and to Enrique Noriega for the interview on how Soledad Tanner Consulting is helping the community generate additional value and increase the profit and productivity of the businesses.

Soledad Tanner, MIB

Created with flickr slideshow.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Four Costly Cash Flow Errors You Can't Overlook



There is perhaps no greater marker of health for a business than the existence of a robust cash flow. Despite this, cash flow problems are all too common and have been shown to be the reason behind 82% of business failures.

Here are four of the most common cash flow errors, and how you can avoid them.

Unchecked Expenses

Whether you are looking at fixed costs, such as rented office space, or variable costs, like inventory, it’s important to regularly review your expense sheet and trim unnecessary expenditures. These unchecked costs vary depending on the nature of your business and which expenses are required for growth. For example, having a prime location is a top priority for a coffee shop whose sales are largely shaped by local demand. Because of this, location-based businesses may choose to carry higher rental expenses in order to achieve targeted profits. However, a wholesale business can save on prime rental costs by choosing a cheaper location to set up shop as sales are unaffected by this cost-saving strategy.

To avoid this cash flow error, you need to get creative and attentive. Check in on your expenses regularly by fostering a detailed knowledge of amounts and dates of upcoming cash outlays. Record when each penny will be spent and on what. Do not clump expenses together, but instead create separate line items for every significant cost. These may include rent, inventory, salaries and wages, sales and other taxes withheld or payable, debt payments, as well as anything that may be particular to your own business.

Delayed Accounts Receivables

Though money in accounts receivable can be a sign of payments to come, it may also mean trouble on the horizon. Because accounts receivable still need to be collected, by treating these figures as profit, you can end up short when expenses arise. This cash flow problem is most prevalent when businesses fall into the pattern of being passive, rather than proactive, about collecting past-due payments. Clear guidelines can be helpful in counteracting this passivity. Create a series of steps that keep both you and your clients accountable to following through on payments. You may want to determine and clarify consequences for when payments are late, such as a late-payment fee or work stoppage. 

Get proactive with your accounts receivable by setting up a clear workflow that includes prompt invoice issuing, tracking of slow-paying customers, or even a cash-on-delivery agreement. Consider implementing credit checks on all new noncash customers. If waiting on payment is unavoidable, have customers make a deposit payment at the point of the initial order, which will increase the likelihood of your company being compensated.

Unrealistic Expectations

It is well known that most businesses are overly optimistic about sales numbers and growth rates. However, similar and equally problematic patterns occur when it comes to cash flow. This happens when business owners assume that receivables will continue to come in at a constant rate, that principle and loan interest rates will not fluctuate, or that payables can be extended as far as they have in the past. Though inaccurate guesses in one of these areas may not cripple a business, if the inaccuracies are compounded, the company may end up in a serious cash bind.

On its own, a cash bind is not a fatal flaw for a new business. These moments are to be expected. The way to work against this error is to actually plan for it. It’s impossible to accurately predict the future, so the only safe way to set your business up for success is to be prepared for the worst — even while hoping and working for the best.

There are several common business practices that can help you get back in the black when you experience a shortfall. Banks are much happier to offer a loan before you are in need of one, so make sure to apply for working capital before you are desperate for it. Alternatively, consider turning to your suppliers, as they have a vested interest in your success and may be willing to arrange an extended term. This may at times be equal in value to a significant low-cost loan.

Forgetting That Growth is Expensive

One of the most financially precarious times for a business is during periods of significant growth. For retailers, this may come as the result of doing major purchasing in preparation for busy seasons such as holiday shopping. For other companies, it can be during a growth spurt where sales may double, causing production costs to do so as well. Prepare for this by planning ahead and ensuring you have adequate working capital. If you see the potential for significant growth in the near future, do all you can to secure appropriate financing ahead of time to get you through a cash crunch. 

Another way growth can cost you is in operational mismanagement. Prepare by optimizing your customer service for scalability to avoid an increase in returns or loss of faithful customers.

A good tip is to keep your spending as close to pre-growth habits as possible. Some businesses find themselves going on a success spending spree, taking an increase in orders as a sign to increase spending. A growing company will require some additional expenditures, including extra help or important infrastructural supports, but these are often smaller than business owners assume. If you’ve built your company lean, continue to operate on minimal expenditures as you grow. Not only will this keep investors happy, but it will also guarantee you a healthy financial cushion when you really need it.

Looking at your cash flow regularly can not only help you save but also grow your business. Get in the habit of a regular check-in, whether weekly, monthly or quarterly. This will help you be clear on the health of your business and keep you calm, allowing you to make the most strategic choices possible.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Grow Your Career By Learning From the World's Most Successful Women

By:  John White, Business Account Executive

In 2017 there are only 17% of startups with a female founder. According to an American Express Open study, the number of women-owned businesses in the United States outpaced the growth of businesses in general by one and a half times between 1997 and 2014. Still, women-owned businesses account for only 30% of businesses overall.

Women have made significant progress as business owners, but there is still a major disparity between the sexes in the workplace, and it becomes even more exaggerated within nonwhite ethnicities. What is holding women back and what can we do to level the playing field?

Sheryl Sandberg wrote Lean In in 2013, which earned both high praise and criticism. "The reason I wrote Lean In is I think people weren't actually noticing that we had stopped making progress. I gave a TED talk and said: "It turns out men still run the world." And the audience gasped as if that was news. I think we made so much progress for decades, starting in the 1960's and the 1970's on, that when really the progress stopped, it ground to a halt on leadership roles, on the pay gap, on the percentage of women who are running for office, we didn't exactly notice.

So I think making sure we are correctly looking at where we are. You know, we are 20% in the Congress. We have never had a woman president. We are 5% of the Fortune 500 CEO jobs. Paying attention to that is the first step and understanding that that's not OK," said Sandberg in a recent USA Today interview.
How Policy Changes Can Help

The United States is the only developed country with no paid maternity or parental leave. This, among several other factors, holds many women back from achieving leadership positions because of issues with work/family life balance. According to the 2016 Women in the Workplace study, "Only 40% of women are interested in becoming top executives, compared to 56% of men. Women and men worry equally about work-life balance and company politics.

However, women with and without children are more likely to say they don't want the pressure, and women who want a top job anticipate a steeper path than men who do." Paid family leave policies can help women achieve greater balance between their careers and their home lives.

The study also found that closing the gender pay gap is going to be a challenge, because women who negotiate face serious blowback that their male counterparts don't: "Women who negotiate for a promotion or compensation increase are 30% more likely than men who negotiate to receive feedback that they are "bossy," "too aggressive," or "intimidating.""

Policies like standard compensation packages or compensation transparency can help decrease the gender pay gap, giving women greater opportunities for career growth.
Positive Habits Can Help Women Overcome Obstacles

Even in a skewed society, many women still make it to the top through perseverance. Oprah Winfrey overcame an impoverished and difficult childhood to become one of the wealthiest women in America by believing that failure is just life pushing you in a different direction. J.K. Rowling was a single mother living on welfare when she wrote the first Harry Potter book, but she persevered through rejection by 12 different publishers before she finally sold her manuscript.

Lucille Ball struggled to be taken seriously as an actor and businesswoman until the runaway success of "I Love Lucy," which led to her becoming the first woman to run a major television studio and eventually her receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

People are 33% more likely to reach their goals if they write them down:
Dolly Parton advocates for writing down your goals and then going about life as though you have already achieved them
Sheryl Sandberg writes her calendars and to-do lists by hand because she believes this is more effective than keeping digital ones
Simone Biles keeps her goals for the next twelve months written down in a notebook

Taking time to rest and refresh is also important. As the saying goes, you can't pour from an empty vessel. Reading, meditating, and exercising can keep you centered and on the right track. Achieving work/life balance is also important to everyone, but most especially to mothers, who have a lot more on their plates than the average person.

Michelle Obama does allow motherhood to define her despite her many other accomplishments because she considers it her most cherished role. Learning to balance motherhood and work is crucial to happiness in both.

Learn more about the habits of highly successful women from this infographic from Business Student. How can policy changes that support women and mothers help level the professional playing field?

Saturday, June 10, 2017

When This Cookie Dough Company Went Viral, Its Founder Had to Change Everything

Running a business takes courage, passion, time, knowledge and support. To increase your chances of continuous success, you need an expert that helps you be more efficient and increases your probability of making a better profit. Is your company growing so fast that you need support to grow your investment? 

Call me to set up complimentary consultation 832-998-2136.

Soledad Tanner, MIB

After Kristen Tomlan opened her shop Do, she was stunned by just how thoroughly unprepared she was -- it was a disaster.

Editor’s Note: In the new podcast Masters of Scale, LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman explores his philosophy on how to scale a business -- and at, entrepreneurs are responding with their own ideas and experiences on our hub. This week, we’re discussing Hoffman’s theory: If you're not embarrassed by your first product release, you released it too late. Listen to this week's episode here.

I thought I was ready to open my first brick-and-mortar business. I’d been selling gourmet cookie dough online for two years, and although I knew retail would be an adjustment, I was excited to learn on the job. I believed that we all must go after what we want without hesitation -- because if we wait for that “perfect” moment, we’ll be waiting forever. And yet, when I opened my shop, Do, in Manhattan in January 2017, I was still stunned by just how thoroughly unprepared I was. It was a mess. A disaster. An embarrassment, on occasion -- and exciting, scary, wonderful and terrible at the same time.

And yet, I’ll be honest: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It all started with a Facebook video from Insider Food that went viral (with 63 million views). And that led to big crowds -- way bigger than we expected. We were grateful for them, but unable to serve them the way we’d have wanted to. We ran out of product, we worked overtime to make up for our shortage and then we ran out of ingredients. Meanwhile, customers were stuck waiting up to five hours for their cookie dough. We didn’t have the equipment we needed to produce the quantity of product we needed. Our online orders were pinging in at one order per minute, so we had to shut down online ordering just to keep our heads above the water.

There were only 10 of us -- five full-time employees and five part-time employees -- and we were all beyond exhausted, forcing smiles just to get through the day. When, or rather if, we finally got to go home at night, we found that we were just far too stressed to get any degree of rest. At one point I even called in my family, begging them to fly out from the Midwest as reinforcements. I was desperate.

But, of course, my family couldn’t save me from this madness. I could only save myself. So once the initial shock wore off, I began fixing the problem and, for the first time, truly building a business that could achieve what I wanted it to achieve. Here were three big steps I took:
1. I hired a lot more staff.

When we ran out of product the first weekend and had to close for two days to get caught up, I used every possible moment I could to post job listings, look at resumes, conduct interviews and hire all positions -- front of house, back of house and a far larger management team that would include a marketing and social media manager, a dedicated ecommerce team, a director of events, a production manager, a strategic partnership manager, a special project coordinator and a general manager for the shop.

When evaluating potential new hires, I didn’t care as much about prior experience as I did about personality. Scooping cookie dough is teach-able. An outgoing, spunky, upbeat personality is not. It was important that I chose like-minded individuals that immediately understood -- and bought into -- what we had going on here. In a matter of a month, I hired 60 additional employees.

Not every new employee was a winner, and we lost a few of the existing team that couldn’t handle the craziness. But, that was all just part of the process. We also put necessary policies and procedures in place, got new HR, payroll and scheduling software to keep it all straight, and re-organized our storage area to accommodate a few desks.
2. I quickly increased production.

When I was just selling online, I operated out of a tiny old kitchen. When we signed a 10-year lease on our retail space, we would be able “grow into” it over the years. Ha! After two weeks, we were already out of space. Our kitchen is only 375 square feet, and our product is perishable. Where would we store it all? How could we keep up?

With the new people I hired, we began running three shifts in the kitchen and in the front of house. Production was running 5 a.m. to midnight, with a cleaning crew from midnight to 3 a.m. We bought bigger mixers, quadrupled both our refrigerated and our frozen storage capacity (which included dropping enormously heavy refrigerators 10 feet down through a hole in the sidewalk that led to our basement), and delegated certain portions of production to specific individuals, so each person had a distinct task and a distinct responsibility.

But that still wasn’t enough. So, we quickly identified potential production partners and larger commissary space in the Bronx. We scaled up our ingredients, trained another new team, and got new containers and new ingredients delivered as quickly as possible. Five weeks after we opened the shop, our new facility was up and running in the Bronx.
3. I successfully tracked inventory management.

The first weekend, when we ran out of ingredients, I ordered double for the following weekend. And we still ran out. So I doubled it again, and we still went through it all -- leading me to schlep to the store to purchase more butter and vanilla myself. It was a joke. Ordering, lead times and minimums were all a learning curve.

So we sat down and analyzed our sales. How many containers and what sizes of containers were we using? If we sold X number of scoops, that was how much dough? How many batches? What was the flavor breakdown, so we could figure out how much of each ingredient we needed each week? What about the spoons and the napkins and the lids and the trash bags? There were so many things we were ordering and from so many vendors, and things got missed.

Then, our suppliers ran out. We were purchasing their entire warehouse stock faster than they could replenish. So we identified new suppliers and backup vendors and begged people to waive minimums -- even sometimes going to random far-off warehouses to pick items up to avoid the delivery time. We ordered more of everything -- our heat-treated flour that is only produced once a month, our containers that take 12 weeks from China. We ordered it all, and this time, more than we thought we would ever need.

Should I have figured out some of these things before launching the business? Sure. And if I’d launched a business before, maybe I’d have known to do them. But, I still agree with Reid Hoffman that it’s good to be embarrassed by your first product. It means that you put something out into the world that people could react to -- and then could change to their liking. I’ve learned what a wonderful resource of inspiration and information our customers make, and we really try to take their requests and suggestions into account. We relaunched our online sales because of customer demand, and now we ship across the country. We launch two new flavors every month and have the capacity to make specialty items and custom treats. That’s all stuff that I might not have done if I hadn’t let the public into our process.

Today, Do continues to grow. We’re partnering with Citi Field, Dylan’s Candy Bar and the Governor’s Ball Music Festival, just to name a few. And yet I’m sure that, in five or 10 years’ time, I’ll look back at what I’m doing today, smack my forehead, and be embarrassed about some other part of the business. But that’s fine. I know now that, in business, you just have to take the leap, try your hardest, roll with the punches, and most importantly, figure it out along the way.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Are you facing challenges in your business?

Soledad Tanner Consulting’s will support with your business financial management. In order to succeed with your company, you need to have a strategic plan, procedures and controls. We can help you!

Soledad Tanner Consulting offers financial management consulting, and helps you solve issues such as: Loss of revenue, margin reduction, high costs, obsolete processes, inadequate financial controls, lack of reliable budgets and forecasts. 

Contact us for a complimentary consultation: (832) 998-2136, Soledad@SoledadTanner.coms  

Soledad Tanner, MIB