Initials

CPA CITP

Society has adopted as truth this funny notion that there are no differences from one person to another.

Then, it diligently goes about labeling each to differentiate the homogeneous mixture.

Recent attendance at a Scaling New Heights conference was a gentle reminder of this Universal Principle: regardless of how alike a group of people may be, the individual differences are worthy of consideration.

In fact, the uniqueness of the individuals is what creates synergy for the group. In other words, the sum of the whole is greater than its parts. Yet, the value of the group is dependent upon the integrity of the individual members.

As attendees of the Conference, we were provided an assortment of materials and a name Badge. Since the Conference was conducted in cooperation with Intuit®, the maker of QuickBooks, one early announcement was the availability of lapel Pins to note our levels of achievement.

Caught up in the pompousness of the moment, I went by the Intuit® booth and claimed my awards. In observing others with the Pins affixed to their Badges, I did the same — for about an hour.

Then, I was struck with the absurdity: we were all the same, as ProAdvisor attendees.

The real distinction was in the passion at the core of who we are, as individuals.

Our value to one another and the Customers we serve is not in the awards, certifications, or degrees accumulated in appendages to our name. Value is the reality of a perception. Reputation is what others think about us. Character is who we really are.

A couple of years ago, my character was tested by a potential new Customer. By being too eager to please, I gave the best of me to the son-in-law, who asked for help. Although purporting to have authority to purchase, son-in-law was subordinate to Father-In-Law.

Once that was understood, I took the game from my office to their place of business. Oh, the fun of beginning again with the one who controlled funding authority. All was going relatively well, until I decided to take a short-cut.

Rather than build Trust and provide the opportunity for Respect to be earned and given, I thought my credentials were pretty dang impressive and decided to share them.

Since we were standing right there next to a computer, what better way to close the deal than to have this potential new Customer see Testimonials from old Clients? As the CFO son-in-law (under my direction) wiggled the mouse and tickled the keyboard to navigate onto a Site of Distinction, CEO Father-In-Law grew increasingly amused.

Thinking that I had thoroughly impressed him, his lesson in humility haunts me to this day, “So, how much did you have to pay those people to say that?”

In defense of my honor, I assured him that those were actual Clients and they paid a Price for Value. My whining didn’t impress Father-In-Law in the least. He was a proud man, who could make his own judgment to my worth. He didn’t need my help.

So close to being a mutually beneficial relationship and I messed it up by wanting to brag.

If only I had remembered:

Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—
a stranger, not your own lips.

The collection of Business Cards accompanying me home from the Conference was the perfect reminder of how hard we work to achieve distinction in the eyes of the governing bodies. Yet, all that really matters in life and business is the effort we make, individually, to serve those in our sphere of influence.

Initials behind our names are, simply, mile-markers on our journey of growth. The danger is in believing they are an announcement of greatness. They are not.

The dictionary definition of Initial: Of, relating to, or occurring at the beginning; first.

That’s all Initials are, the opportunity to begin a relationship with another person.

www.kimfoard.com

Long Rein

Long ReinThere are a plethora of benefits from a childhood spent horseback in a sea of cowhides.

On the open prairies under the big skies of Montana, one thing is quickly learned:

You are expected to come prepared and ready to work.

Generally, the most that is known about the daily adventure is the Time and Place.

In late spring and early summer, that’s Branding Season. A neighbor will call to ask for cowboys. The conversation is short, sweet, and to the point: Time and Place.

In the dark of night, long before breakfast, horses are saddled and equipped for the rendezvous.

As the first glimmer of dawn is visible on the horizon, the cowboys clink their way into a semi-circle around the ranch owner. Eyes follow the sweep of the herdsman’s hand to understand the sections (640 acres, each) to be gathered into the corrals where they stand.

Little is given in the way of instruction. Beginning with the end in mind is all that is required. From the hills to the corrals is the simple plan. Upon swinging into the saddle, each cowboy begins an individual effort for the benefit of many.

The unspoken is the language of the buckaroos. If the corrals are in the North, the first of several cowboys to mount might head to the South-West; the rest will know to cover the South-East corner of the pasture. As the corners are discerned, the groups will silently disperse into individuals surveying the Southern border for signs of livestock.

Eventually, the cowboys turn North and find themselves all alone, with a job to do. Horse and rider will be depending on each other; one with the brawn, the other with the brains. Thinking out in front of a cow and her calf is one thing; convincing her of a new idea is quite another.

Somewhere in the middle of the whole dang show will be an occasion for pause don’t you know. The ignorance of a single cow will be the catalyst for the cowboy to rethink and retool.

By drawing his horse to a stop, inhaling a long deep breath of that sage-saturated air and raising eyes to the horizon, that cowboy can gain a fresh perspective on the task at hand. In fact, he realizes that’s been the problem: a rein too short.

Wiggling himself down into the well-oiled leather of a saddle worn comfortable from many trips before, winking into the eyes of a horse thankful for the rest, and measuring a long rein to reach just the right balance, that cow is about to experience the Rest of the Story.

You see, the cowboy had lost touch with reality. He had let the natural instincts of a brute bovine beast get him off balance. The more unbalanced he became, the more he shortened his rein. The shorter his rein, the more off balance he became.

So, if you’re feeling a little off balance, the secret to arriving at the corrals with herd in hand is, simply, take a deep breath and a long rein to enjoy the moment and a prosperous reign.

www.kimfoard.com

Build Something

Build SomethingThis is more than another B.S. musing. A bright financial future is waiting, if you will accept this encouragement to Build Something Special (B.S.S.).

Let’s begin with that extra “S”: the Special one. Yes; that is YOU. You are one-of-a-kind, broke-the-mold, and a special creation with a unique set of gifts. You are of great value and have much to offer others. The world is anxiously waiting for you to Build Something Special for our mutual benefit.

You’ve heard the expression: Preparation plus Opportunity equals Success.

This is even more powerful: Preparation is guaranteed to produce Opportunities resulting in Success.

There is absolutely no need to wait around for an opportunity. The encouragement to Build Something Special is really an exhortation for us to focus on what is within our, individual, control. Answer the Why, How, and What of YOU and the world is your oyster.

Why do you exist?

How can you make a difference in the lives of others?

What is the medium for delivering the very best YOU to the world?

By thinking about the Value inherent in YOU, a choice manifests for you to become a Master Craftsman and Build Something Special.

Lift your dominant hand up and forward. Carefully, look at the thumb and fingers. Those five digits are the number of steps necessary to Build Something Special. There is a matched set of tools on your other hand. That, my friends, is the extent to which we are in control. Plenty to keep us busy, though. Let’s begin!

Step 1 ~ Establish a Fair Price

A fair price is one which is good for You and your Customer. The question begging to be answered is, “Price of what?!” Glad you asked, because the question provides the opportunity for YOU to answer it. The secret to finding your way out of this Riddle is to answer the Why, How, and What questions, above.

Define your passion in life and the Why will be obvious. Inventory your abilities and the How becomes evident. Then, you will know, exactly, What you need to do to Build Something Special. You will fully understand whether you will be offering a Service, or a Product, to the marketplace.

You have the responsibility to establish a Fair Price for your offering. As long as the Customer perceives Value greater than Price, they will believe the price is fair. Naturally, the Customer’s perception can be enhanced by offering Value many times greater than Price, which is also mutually beneficial in achieving a Fair Price for You.

In the simplest of definitions, a Fair Price for You is one, which: enables You to provide for your Family.

(For a complete narrative and solution of The Magic Formula for fair pricing, see the detailed examples in the articles Price We Pay and 5 Minute Business Plan.)

Step 2 ~ Ask for Acceptance

Unless the Customer wants what is being offered, the price is irrelevant. We, all, want what we don’t have. The secret to acceptance, then, is to provide options which satisfy what the Customer wants. The only way to know that is to carefully listen. Yes; listen with care to discover what is of Value to the Customer.

By beginning with the end in mind, we can negotiate mutually acceptable terms and expectations. Simply: Who is going to do What by When.

Step 3 ~ Plan the Work

An old Proverb best communicates this powerful principle: Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house. In other words, every successful venture requires planning and bountiful harvests are necessary for nurturing our families.

The purpose of Blueprints is to Build Something Special on paper, first. By doing so, we consider the required resources of Time and Money. The best use of resources is to proceed from Start to Finish, without interruption.

Step 4 ~ Deliver on Promises

This is the time for action. We have a quality offering; the Customer has a want in need of fulfillment; terms have been agreed upon; and, resources allocated. Preparation has generated Opportunity. Get-er-done is our mantra as we push forward to Success.

Step 5 ~ Enjoy the Celebration

As with any party, Ribbons and Bows showcase the gifts. You have exceeded the Customer’s expectations. They are all kinds of excited. It is appropriate to celebrate with them. Do a Walk-around. Let them express their Appreciation for spectacular Results. Listen for the Opportunity to provide even more to them in the Future. Accept their willingness to Pay in full for Value beyond Price.

Experienced builders know the secret to success is to Begin and Begin Again. Five digits at the end of a strong arm. Five steps to Build Something Special. The sweetest surprise: a passion for the Why of your existence; an understanding of How to touch lives; and, the What of your gifts.

Preparation has created Opportunity and Success.

You did it once.

You can do it again!

Build Something Special

www.kimfoardcpa.com

5 Minute Business Plan

BlueprintsBlueprint For Success

A seasoned carpenter shared this secret to success: “You must begin; and begin again.”

For the dreamers among us, the question is: “Where do I begin?”

The purpose of this article is to provide the parameters for a quick analysis of an idea to determine its possibility, and probability, of actionable success. As with any legitimate construction project, we build it on paper, first.

This is our blueprint.

Owner Compensation
The concept of beginning here is novel for a Business Plan. Yet, this number will keep our attitude right and provide the Retained Earnings for business expansion. One of the principles of success is: Begin with the End in Mind.

Debt Service
Unless adequate funds are available for start-up, the early years will include a Banker for a partner. The goal is to buy them out as quickly as possible to retain their share of profits, paid out of our business as Interest.

Taxes
Self-employment, Federal income and State income taxes must be paid timely. Because of severe penalties for non-compliance, governmental entities are a bad source of financing.

Overhead
This is the delivery system of providing value to the marketplace. It is everything from the brick-and-mortar to indirect expenses; it is the price we pay to have a Company.

Direct Costs
Each project and customer will want, and need, something different. The flexibility to “Wow!” them requires additional expenditures.

Productive Units
All of the above is accomplished by understanding the finite number of units available for distribution. For service enterprises, this will be a reservoir of “Hours”; for a products company, this will be the capacity of the “Shop”; and, for an inventory business, this will be the “Goods”.

Formulas:

Net Income = (Owner + Banker) / (100% – Tax Rate)
Value to Customers = Net Income + Overhead
Sales Price = Value to Customers + Direct Costs

Example Variables:

Owner Compensation: $80,000 ~ [For the Family, after taxes]
Debt Service: $40,000 ~ [Loans $200,000; 5 Year maturity]
Tax Rate: 40% ~ [S/E 15.3%, FD 20%, ST 4.7%]
Overhead: $144,000 ~ [Ads, Insurance, Rent, Utilities, Etc.]

Solution:

(Owner $80,000 + Banker $40,000) / (100% – 40% Tax Rate)
Is same as: $120,000 / .60 = $200,000 Net Income
$200,000 Net Income + $144,000 Overhead = $344,000 Value

For those providing Services to the marketplace, the final step is to divide Productive Units into the Customer Value. Full-time employment is 2,000 hours per year; entrepreneurs will work more than that, with only a percentage actually billable to Customers.

If our Start-up Enterprise team can be 86% productive, after allowance for those duties of internal and external management, it has an annual reservoir of 1,720 billable hours.

$344,000 Value to Customers / 1,720 Hours = $200 per Hour: Price for Value

Those providing Products, or Inventory, for sale to customers, will factor in the Direct Costs. In fact, they will consider the number of meals (if a restaurant), or suits (if a boutique), as their Productive Units and establish their Mark-up, accordingly.

Now, step apart from the crowd and consider the most important variable of all: “What is my passion: the one unique thing about me, for which the world waits?”

The rest of the story from our successful builder, quoted at the beginning of this article: “Find something you love to do and do a lot of it.” If we are able and willing to tap into that passion and grasp the foundational principles of a Business Plan, quite literally, we are 5 Minutes away from a new beginning!

www.kimfoardcpa.com

Rocking Cradles

Mother's Day BouquetChanging the World

Mothers make the world better for days by planting flowers; they improve it for years by planting trees; and, they change it forever by planting ideals in the minds of those they touch.

In the blink of an eye, they bring the greatest gifts into our world. As those little babies are blinking to focus on the new people in their world, parents are thinking about the wonder of life. Words are, always, inadequate to explain feelings. How does one describe this miracle of new birth?!

One thing is for certain, though, mothers have a special bond with their children. From the moment of birth, through nursing, nurturing, laundering, shuttling and care-giving, the fact is: Mom is first in the hearts of their children. Dads, everywhere, marvel with admiration on a facet of parenting accomplished with such grace by Moms: multi-tasking!

Since my son joined his sister, who was three years of age, in the year of 1988, this story is best told by Steve Wariner, who earned a Grammy nomination for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance-Duet with Glen Campbell for “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” in that same year.

He got here red and wrinkled, scared and cryin’
Then, she took him up and held him to her breast
And he sure was glad to get what mama offered
Then he went to sleep and put his fears to rest

It didn’t seem to matter what he needed
He could always count on mama to supply
And regardless of the sleep she might be losin’
He always found a twinkle in her eye

There ought to be a hall of fame for mamas
Creation’s most unique and precious pearls
And Heaven help us always to remember
That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

She taught him all the attributes of greatness
That she knew he couldn’t learn away from home
And by the time she wore the cover off her Bible
Her hair was gray and her little man was gone

There ought to be a hall of fame for mamas
Creation’s most unique and precious pearls
And Heaven help us always to remember
That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

Yes, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

To all the women, who are changing the world, one child at a time:
Happy Mother’s Day!

www.kimfoard.com

Alpha and Omega

Thoughts to Destiny

An oft quoted slogan is, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” There are two sides to that coin, I know. Yet, there is merit, in consideration of love being defined as “Love is patient, Love is kind, It rejoices with the truth, Always protects, Always trusts, Always hopes, Always perseveres.” None of that needs an apology.

What needs a little thought, though, is the question, “Where do we begin and end?”

One day when Lindsey and Ryan were grade school age, we were in Billings at the Applebees in the heights for lunch. As we were waiting for a table, we were also enjoying the signage. I’d seen it several times, before. Yet, it must have put the exclamation point behind the lesson for the day: “Unless you’re the lead dog, the view never changes.”

Maybe, that’s just another way of saying, “We get what we allow.” Many will try to feed us the crumbs of their time and affection. The result is a loss of energy and eventually the loss of our freedoms. How much better to sit at the banquet table of life and enjoy our God given right to be nourished.

In the animal kingdom, there is the Alpha Male, who struts his stuff and makes more noise than the competition. He tends to forget that there will always be a meaner gorilla, somewhere, who will grind him into dust and, eventually, be taken down by an even meaner gorilla, and so on, ad infinitum.

Refreshing is an Omega Male character like Bruce Willis, who, in his movies, is the epitome of the “Last Boy Scout”. He isn’t necessarily the strongest physically; yet, he simply refuses to accept defeat. Even when beaten until he’s bloody, he doggedly pursues the enemy; when tempted to take the easy way, he refuses to compromise; and, when we beg him to quit, he reminds us that the alternative to success is worse than death. He wins because he is the toughest: mentally and emotionally.

The years horseback taught a lesson that I use to guide others to destinations of their choice. A cowboy guides his herd by riding at the rear, moving up and along the sides, offering course corrections at the appropriate pace. Since cows never go in a straight line, the cowboy is alternating from one side, back across the rear of the herd, around to the other side, and so on, until the journey ends. Some of the cows offer appreciation for greener pastures; others give the impression it was their idea.

A shepherd, although different in philosophy from a cowboy, is also found behind those in his care. Rather than approach his flock with the intent of driving them, he comes prepared with a dog and a hook. Once noses are pointed in the direction of the day’s destination, sheep will be sheep, and the adventure begins. Wasting no time in thinking, they just do, as they rush to play “follow-the-leader”. They have implicit trust in the shepherd’s ability to rescue them from any misfortune.

Beginning to end, this is true: Thoughts lead to words; Words lead to actions; Actions lead to habits; Habits lead to character; and, Character leads to our Destiny.

www.kimfoard.com