It’s Lonely at the Top

You’ve started a business. Things are running smoothly, you’re drawing in customers and your employees are happy. Things are going great! Or are they? While everyone around you may be thriving, you find yourself stuck in a hole. You feel stressed, pressured and alone – even though you have all these great people around you. So, what’s going on?

Sometimes, it can be lonely at the top. You may have never thought being an entrepreneur would lead to these feelings. As an entrepreneur, you had a dream to start a business, and you followed that dream until it became a reality. You believed in and trusted yourself. When there were successes, you had your team there to share in them with you. But when there were failures and setbacks, there weren’t as many people around to take them on.

These feelings of loneliness can come from a variety of sources. Maybe you feel lonely because you sit in your office all day working on the core of the business, while everyone else is interacting and working together. Maybe you know the nitty gritty details of your business, but realize you can’t share these details with your employees because they just won’t understand. In other words, you know your vision and goals for the business, but you just aren’t able to share with everyone.

This loneliness might impact other areas of your life as well. Maybe you’re spending too much time traveling for work, so you’re missing valuable time with your kids or family. Your social life could be suffering, and your friends might think you’ve fallen off the face of the Earth. The loneliness you are feeling can even have a negative impact on your health.

Although this loneliness may seem impossible to deal with, there are some ways to combat and manage these feelings.

  • Collaborate – Finding a way to collaborate with your employees, even if it’s just one day a week, can be extremely beneficial. Find ways to engage your employees in what it is you’re doing, so that they can get a better understanding. Having your employees working with you, rather than just for you, creates a new relationship that doesn’t leave you feeling isolated.
  • Self-Care – At the end of the day, you will always have yourself – so it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. Whether it be allowing yourself to relax in front of the TV at night, hitting the gym or volunteering, finding ways to take care of your mind and body outside of work can help you feel better all-around and push off those negative feelings of loneliness.
  • Consider Co-working – If you live and work in a town that has co-working space available, take advantage of it. Often times, other business owners, entrepreneurs and CEOs will be doing the same thing – and this can provide a place for you to work around like-minded people. You might meet people who are going through the same struggles as you, and you might be able to form a relationship that is beneficial to both of you. Working around others can help you find a support system that can help you through the struggles of loneliness.
  • Find an Advisor – Looking to a trusted business advisor may be one of the best ways to beat the woes of entrepreneurial loneliness. It’s likely that your business advisor has dealt with feelings similar to what you are feeling – so they can really truly understand what you’re dealing with and how to help you. Having a trusted advisor also takes some of the burden of decision making off your shoulders.
  • Peer Groups – You can seek out advice and mentorship from other people besides a business advisor. Consider joining a peer networking group that interests you and matches with your situation. This will give you access to a network of people who can be there for you during life’s struggles, but are also ready to celebrate life’s triumphs. Being a part of a peer group gives you access to people who won’t let you feel alone.

While being lonely at the top might be a struggle, it’s important to remember your business depends on you. With the right amount support and guidance, as well as remembering to take care of yourself, it’s possible to overcome the loneliness of being at the top.

Beware the Data Breach

By: Eide Bailly Technology Consulting

It should come as no surprise that data breaches are becoming more and more popular in today’s day and age. Although many businesses believe this could never happen to them, the harsh reality is that it could happen to anyone. This leads us to our point: just how detrimental could a data breach be to your business’s bottom line?

Let’s first look at exactly what a data breach is. In its most simple sense, a data breach is when an individual’s name and other confidential, personal information is potentially put at risk. These breaches usually occur due to a criminal attack, a glitch in technology or even just a human error.

When looking at the expenses a business could incur due to a data breach, there are some scary numbers reported. The attacks themselves are unique and so are the expenses an organization may face. The Ponemon Institute 2016 Cost of Data Breach Study revealed that the average cost for each lost or stolen record containing confidential or sensitive information increased from $217 in 2015 to $221 by 2016 – per record! This was a 2% rise, showing an upward trend in the cost of stolen information. This is mainly due to the loss of more customers than was originally expected. Verizon, in their 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report, found that an organization may spend between $52,000 and $87,000 on 1,000 stolen records. Yikes!

It’s obvious a data breach is something no business wants to deal with. Not only will a breach cost your business money, but it could also cost you your reputation. That can lead to many financial problems down the road (think loss of customers, loss of revenue, etc.).

To make sure your business is taking the proper steps to reduce your risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches, consider some of these questions:

  • What data protection policies and procedures do you currently have in place?
  • Are there any industry regulations you need to follow?
  • When was the last time you tested your data security measures?
  • Do you have your data backed up, and if so, how secure is it?
  • Is your data protected from human errors or system malfunctions?
  • When did your management team last review your security measures in depth?
  • Have other businesses similar to yours experienced data breaches?

These questions, although just a starting point, can be extremely helpful in determining whether your business is at a high risk of a data breach. If you feel your answers to some of these questions aren’t as great as you were hoping, it’s time to start working on your business’s overall security plans.

Shameless Plug (because you knew that was coming): Eide Bailly’s Cyber Security Compass can help your business stay safe from cyber- attacks. By analyzing your business’s strengths and weaknesses, a report is given to help you determine what areas of your business need help. Trust us, this tool is pretty neat.

You don’t want your business to be another statistic impacted by a data breach. Protect your business’s bottom-line by making data security and protection a key goal in your business strategy.

A version of this post first appeared on Eide Bailly’s Technology Consulting blog.

Are you an intrapreneur?

Have you ever thought of yourself as a risk taker? You know, someone who pushes the envelope, challenges the status quo or maybe someone who finds the word “impossible” to be a challenge. Now, what if you were acting this way in an attempt to better your business/employer? If you are taking risks and being innovative for the possibility of bettering your business, you might be an intrapreneur.

An intrapreneur is defined as “an employee of a business who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services, etc. and does not have to follow the usual routines or protocols” according to the dictionary. The American Heritage Dictionary adds on that an intrapreneur takes responsibility for an idea through assertive risk taking and innovation. Further yet, Christian Koch goes on to say that intrapreneurs are the “secret weapon” of the business world.

To sum it all up, an intrapreneur is an employee who takes risks in the hope and desire they pay off for the better of the business.

Intrapreneurs can have a very positive impact on a business. The work of intrapreneurs can lead to increased productivity. When new ideas and tasks are presented, more people are often needed to make these dreams a reality. Adding more people to a new project can lead to more work being completed and more employee engagement.

Along with increased motivation in a business, intrapreneurship can also lead to an increase in innovation – and who doesn’t want that? New ideas can bring about a need for new processes, technology, etc. Acknowledging this need and acting on it can introduce new-to-your business tools that can help foster growth and change which could help your business get ahead.

Another positive impact from intrapreneurs comes from their understanding of current trends and issues. The risks these employees take are usually to address a need or opportunity their business can capitalize on. By keeping up with, and acting on, trends, intrapreneurs can help the business gain a competitive advantage by being early adopters. This competitive advantage can help your business get the leg up it needs to be successful.

These intrapreneurs sound pretty great, right? So how do you go about creating a culture of intrapreneurship in your business?

  • Reward and Recognize Behavior — Reward your employees for taking the initiative or for thinking ahead on projects. Whether it’s a simple thank you, pat on the back or going for lunch, this can show your employees you value (and encourage) them to step up and be innovative.
  • Encourage Healthy Competition – Healthy competition can be extremely helpful when trying to foster a culture of intrapreneurship. This can often times lead to employees working hard in order to win by getting the best results. To do so, it’s possible they will have to come up with new or unique ideas – which can help them transfer this skill over to other parts of their work.
  • Encourage Networking and Collaboration – You’ve heard the saying – two minds are better than one. Encouraging your employees to network and work together on projects can lead to more innovation and productivity, as well as new ideas and feedback. Offering brainstorming sessions allows a set time for employees to get together and collaborate at a time that works for everyone.

As great as having an intrapreneur sounds, it’s important to remember that intrapreneurs simply do not fit in some businesses.  Because intrapreneurs take risks and like to push the envelope, they usually do not fit well with businesses who have a tried and true way of operating. Businesses that have been around for many years, or those who have a set process in place might struggle to adopt and compliment the skills and characteristics of an intrapreneur. Because of their risky behavior, intrapreneurs can cause conflict and disruptions between employees and the business. In this case, it is best to focus on communication in order to keep everyone on the right track and working efficiently and effectively.

Although intrapreneurs can have both positive and negative impacts on a business, it’s important to remember that intrapreneurs typically have the business’s best interest as heart. They’re not just showing up to work for the paycheck. Rather, they are investing in the company by bringing passion and a desire to better the business through innovation and risk taking.


5 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business

With 2017 knocking on the door, you might be thinking of New Year’s resolutions you want to make (and stick with). Maybe you want to hit the gym more, or maybe you’re considering clocking some more volunteer hours in the upcoming year.

In planning resolutions for yourself, have you stopped to take time to think about what you could do to better your business in the New Year? Here are five New Year’s resolutions to help your business have a successful 2017.

Get Real

Setting goals for your company is a great way to kick off 2017 on the right foot. Having goals set for your business can be a great roadmap for what you want to accomplish in the coming year. These goals can provide you with KPIs, checkpoints and motivation. However, having goals that aren’t quite realistic can result in just the opposite. If you are struggling to reach your goals, it may lead to a lack of motivation and a sense of failure, which could eventually lead to giving up all together. Keep your 2017 goals realistic, and watch your business be successful in reaching them.

Make Dates…With Your Accountant

Make a resolution to actually spend some time with your accountant. Why? Spending time with your accountant can help you get to know each other better, which can result in a better relationship for your business. Along with forming a better relationship, it’s likely your accountant will give you information on your business that can be extremely beneficial for your success. Who knows – they might even help you understand what they’re talking about, which will ultimately help you get a better understanding of the health of your business. Not sure what you should be asking your accountant? Check out these tips for some questions to ask regarding taxes.

Review, Review, Review

A great resolution to make for your business in 2017 is to actually review all of those receipts, invoices and financial statements you have laying around. Looking at these items can help you get a good idea of where your business is spending money, saving money and even where it should be cutting back. Along with reviewing receipts and statements, it’s also smart to review financial trends in your business from the last year or so to get an idea of where your business will head in 2017. Reviewing these periodically throughout the year can also help make sure your business is on track, and can help you catch any potential errors before they become big headaches. If you’re struggling to make sense of what all the numbers mean, it’s probably time to find a professional who can help you (see above.)

Shameless plug: If you’re trying to read your statements and nothing is making sense, we have trained professionals who can help you make sense of all those pesky numbers.

Get With the Program

Staying up to date on rules and regulations that impact your business is always important. Resolving to stay on top of those changes in 2017 can help you make sure your business is always ready for any surprises that might come up. Some things to keep on track with include tax laws and deadlines, changes to employee regulations such as the new overtime ruling and updates to healthcare policies. With a new presidency beginning in 2017, there is a good chance that changes are going to be taking place. Be prepared for them, and act accordingly.

Get Involved

Make a resolution to get involved in your community this year. Whether you have your entire office volunteer at an event, or just a few employees helping out, getting involved can make a huge difference for your company. A study in 2013 by Cone Communications showed that 91% of people surveyed were likely to switch brands to one that supports a good cause. The Pulse Survey from the Reputation Institute showed that a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program is responsible for roughly 40 %(!!) of a company’s reputation. Not only does volunteering and being involved with great causes help the outward reputation of your business, but it may also help you pull in more job seekers. PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that nearly 88% of millennial job seekers are gravitating towards companies that have established CSR programs.

We hope these resolutions, as well as all of your business and personal resolutions, lead to success in 2017. From all of us at Eide Bailly, we wish you a Happy New Year.


A Business Owner’s Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-graphicHappy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Eide Bailly! With the big day being tomorrow, we hope your turkeys are roasting, pies are baking and stomachs are ready to enjoy a delicious meal shared with friends and family.

There are many things people are thankful for– whether it be friends and family, having food on the table or good health.

What are you, as an owner, thankful for about your business?

Here are a few friendly suggestions:

  • You’re living your dream –Just like the pride felt from cooking up a delicious meal to share and seeing everyone enjoying your hard work, business owners should be thankful for the pride that comes from running their own business. Your hard work and determination got you to where you are, and you’ve been through the ups and downs of the business and still made it through.
  • Passion –As you watch some Thanksgiving football, think about the players who are passionate about the game or the fans who are passionate about their team. Business owners can also be passionate about their company and job. Most entrepreneurs love what they do, and channel that passion into their business to make it the best it can be. Being passionate about your business can help lead to success, and that is something worth being thankful for.
  • Creativity — As a business owner, creativity has likely been a key factor in getting you to where you are. Whether it helped you come up with your logo or even your business strategy, creativity has been key in helping your business come to life. The excitement and challenges that come with owning a business allow for a business owner to constantly call on that creative function to come up with new solutions and answers to make the business better.
  • Failure – Yep, you read that right. It is common for entrepreneurs to have faced failures throughout the process of starting their business. However, it is important to be thankful for these failures because they are also learning opportunities. When you work for someone else, you might not get the opportunity to take risks and learn from those failures. Being a business owner allows you to take risks and innovate with the freedom to fail and learn.
  • Flexibility –It would be difficult to not be thankful for the flexibility that comes with owning your own business. Owning your own business allows you to make your own schedule (most of the time), attend events without having to ask for permission or time off and to be your own boss. No matter how tough things may get, it’s rewarding to work for yourself. Although you may work extremely hard, the flexibility to be your own boss deserves some thanks.

 We hope you find many things to be thankful for not only this Thanksgiving, but every day as well.



No Man’s Land: Outgrowing Your Money

Now that we have discussed outgrowing your business model, it’s time to get down to business and talk about what really causes a business to flourish or flop: capital.

Most companies enter into No Man’s Land without having the capital to leave it. If, and when, they fail, “undercapitalization” is seen as the cause. However, it’s important to note that undercapitalization is only a symptom, rather than the root cause. The true cause is the company’s inability to raise capital because it is perceived as too risky.

In order to raise money, companies must focus on reducing their risk, both perceived and real, by addressing the issues that accompany market misalignment, outgrowing your management and outgrowing your business model. Even with the appropriate measures in place, transition through No Man’s Land is difficult because of institutional barriers that exist in the capital markets, such as a lack of experience among investors regarding sustainability, inefficient communication, and limited human capacity. Although it may be a bumpy journey – hold tight, because you can make it through!

Capital shortfalls are one of the most frustrating and terrifying issues that companies face in No Man’s Land. These shortfalls frequently emerge just as the company is gearing up to grow through No Man’s Land, leaving entrepreneurs in the position of poker players who hold unbeatable hands, yet no longer have any chips to bet. Having a successful business but not having the capital to keep it going is downright scary and can bring the company down, along with the entrepreneur.

Why do growing companies run into money troubles? One of the biggest problems is the confusion of financing. Leaders of growing companies generally underestimate the capital their companies will require to emerge from No Man’s Land. They often fail to realize that growth itself fuels a need for capital!

So what should an entrepreneur do when they realize they are short on capital? Unfortunately, there is no magic trick to navigate and overcome this capital gap. Most entrepreneurs are left in crisis, trying to dig up capital any way they can.

A rule of thumb for financial navigation is that the key to raising money is reducing the real and perceived risk of a company. This rule is important because leaders and equity investors approach the funding decision for a company from the standpoint of how risky it is. These investors don’t care about the upside of the business; they want to understand and be assured they will get their money back. It is important for a company to prove that it can escape from No Man’s Land.

How does a business do this?

  • Market Realignment
  • Get the right people in the right positions
  • Develop a profitable business model

Most entrepreneurs view money as the problem rather than a symptom of other problems. Yes, money is essential to success; however, it is not the main focus. Entrepreneurs have to deal with the other three Ms—market, management and model to bring the business operations onto solid ground in order to go for the money! By focusing on money and not dealing with the other three Ms, you are actually focusing on the symptoms, not the underlying cause.

We have learned that risk will influence an investor’s decision. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your company’s risk:

  1. Are there any risks in the business that can be eliminated with money?
  2. Knowing all that you know about the business, would you buy it?
  3. What kind of money do you really need to grow the business?
  4. Are you ready for outside equity and to put your business in the hands of others in order to be successful?

The solution is for everyone involved in the business to come together and act as partners, and to assess what is best for the business during this transition period stage of No Man’s Land.




No Man’s Land: Too Big to be Small, Too Small to be Big

Do you feel like your business is too big to be small and too small to be big? Do you feel like you’re working harder than ever before, but you just don’t know how to make things better?

If you are like so many entrepreneurs, you might start feeling bad and blaming yourself. You may be saying things like, “I’m the problem” or “I just don’t know what it takes to get the job done anymore.” You may even start blaming organizational problems on specific decisions you made or your failure to anticipate larger industry trends.

Leading a business in emerging growth mode can be a truly trying experience. But take heart, because often the troubles you’re encountering aren’t because of you. Rather, they stem from external causes relating to the specific challenges of the No Man’s Land transition.

No Man’s Land: “A transition that a company goes through when it is too big to be small and too small to be big. It’s something every company has to go through in order to grow to scale. It’s a highly fatal transition and many companies don’t make it.” – Doug Tatum

Most entrepreneurs enter No Man’s Land unintentionally. In fact, it’s much like getting lost. “No Man’s Land is dangerous because it’s like getting lost in the wilderness: The unknown terrain comes on subtly, gradually, almost imperceptibly,” says Tatum.

Similar to the ever so awkward stage of adolescence, businesses encounter difficult and potentially fatal challenges unfamiliar to you as an entrepreneur.

It is also important to note that the growth that leads a company into No Man’s Land will not lead a company out of it. To survive this phase in a company’s life cycle, entrepreneurs must step away from the day-to-day and subject their business to a rigorous objective analysis. Only by gaining a more impersonal understanding of the company’s own strengths and weaknesses can entrepreneurs take the necessary strategic steps.

How do I know if I’m in No Man’s Land, or about to enter it?

Companies typically encounter No Man’s Land years after the company has been in operation. It usually takes specific circumstances, innovations and intuition combined with a quick company growth mode that brings a company into No Man’s Land.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Difficulty fulfilling customer promises
  • Decisions become increasingly complex and beyond the capacity of existing leadership to handle
  • Your organization lacks a sense of how it makes money and what its future profitability picture will look like
  • Difficulty obtaining needed financing
  • Leadership feels stuck and stagnant
  • Reporting systems no longer provide meaningful information
  • Loss of control … in other words, your tried-and-true rules don’t work anymore:
  • Employees are having trouble keeping up, even though your vision hasn’t changed.

These are some of the common problems you’ll encounter when you’re in rapid growth. Welcome to No Man’s Land.

So what do I do next?

Unfortunately, there is no shortcut through rapid growth. However, you do have two choices for survival:

  1. Go back to the safety of the starting point. That is, continue to function as a small entity.
  2. Push forward and get ready to handle the challenges you’ll encounter.

Can I just wait this out?

Nope. A company can’t survive for very long while standing in one place. You can’t just ignore No Man’s Land and expect it will just go away. If you do, you’ll end up going backward or going under … neither of which sound like great options.

“Like any voyage of discovery, a trip through No Man’s Land is painful and transformative. To make it through, you’ve got to tackle its challenges head-on – the most quickly and efficiently, the better,” says Tatum.

Any good news?

Yes! No Man’s Land only happens once. It’s a unique transition that happens early in a company’s life cycle, as it grows out of being a small company into being a larger one. But once you’ve passed through this awkwardness, you’re done … at least with No Man’s Land.

More good news: companies that have come through to the other side of No Man’s Land are ready to grow and have the tools in place to help them do just that. A few of the tools include:

  • A brand that people have confidence in
  • A value proposition that is proven and profitable
  • A distinct culture

So how do I get through No Man’s Land?

If you have decided to press through No Man’s Land (which we hope you have), you’ll need:

  •  A map
  • A High Place from which to orient yourself
  • Navigational rules to help you determine your position on the map as you move forward.

Over the next seven blogs in this series, we’ll cover each of the above necessary tools and what these look like for your business. This will also, hopefully, give you a chance to look strategically at your organization, its processes and the challenges you’re encountering.

P.S. In case you missed the first blog in this series, you can find it here. You’re welcome.