Evaluate Where
You Stand
Are You a Second Stage Business?

Second stage businesses are past the startup stage, but are not mature. They are ready to go beyond one owner to a management team. Up until this stage, entrepreneurial techniques have been effective, and many traditional management techniques can actually slow down growth. But at the second stage, it is important that more traditional management replace entrepreneurism for the business to grow.

The Edward Lowe Foundation views second stage businesses as having:

  • $750,000 to 50 million total receipts
  • 10 to 100 employees

    Second stage businesses have these concerns:

  1. Employees are not aware of what others are doing.
  2. Employees lack an understanding of the company's ultimate goals.
  3. A precipitous drop in product quality occurs for unknown reasons.
  4. Turnover increases sharply, just when the company needs more personnel.
  5. Owners wake up worrying about operational tasks that someone else ought to be handling.
  6. Customers want to meet with the owner, but finding the time to do so seems impossible.

Source: http://edwardlowe.org/who-we-serve/secondstage/

If this fits your business' situation, use the resources in this part of the Tools for Business.

Benchmark Your Business Using SizeUp

SizeUp is a free service to help business owners make more informed decisions.

Traditionally, only large businesses have been able to afford acccess to advanced database services with competitive and industry data. SizeUp was developed to even the playing field - so that small businesses could have access to the same information.

Click below for a short video describing SizeUp's benchmarking capabilities:

Click here to go to SizeUp. Registration is free.
Use Key Performance Indicators to grow your business

What are the key indicators that determine your business' success or failure? What gives you a competitive advantage? If these can be measured, you have identified your key performance indicators. They are like the speedometer and gas gauge of your car - you have to keep your eye on them at all times. But unlike a car's dashboard, your job with your business' key indicators is to always work to improve the results.

Key performance indicators can be financial, operational, marketing, and/or people-based - and will be unique to your business. Below is an article and webinar explaining how to use your key performance indicators to grow your business.

Key Performance Indicators
Webinar on using Key Performance Indicators
Using Unique Customer Experiences as a Business Strategy

The Internet has revolutionized the business environment, giving consumers a huge influence on the success or failure of a business. The first stage of this revolution was based on customer service. Bad customer service was quickly shared online through websites such as Yelp. Good customer service was shared through Google LIKE, Facebook, share buttons, and more. So businesses realized that staying in business requires good products AND excellent customer service.

The newest stage of the revolution involves customer experiences. People use social media to talk about unique or special experiences. Good customer service doesn't quite qualify. People want something unique or an add-on that they can talk about with others. It doesn't even have to be part of the main business - but it does have to be unique, entertaining, or informative.

Cooperative Extension, which primarily helps rural communities and businesses, has developed an online training module to help businesses use unique experiences as a business strategy. It is based on the idea that rural businesses can provide unique experiences (such as agri-tourism) - but the concepts can be used for any business.

Online training from Cooperative Extension: Beyond customer service: Creating memorable experiences

Use this information to think outside-the-box. What can you offer your customers to make their experience with your business memorable?

Small Business Report Card

Courtesy of US Bank

Is your business making the grade? This number-crunching study guide has the answer. It helps you calculate the key business ratios so that you can compare them with industry averages. Once you have calculated your ratios, you can go to the library or subscribe to the Hill Reference Library ($7.95 per month) to get access to industry averages.

Click here to go to the Small Business Report Card.

US Bank also offers these short business online publications:

  • Buying and Selling a Small Business
  • The Plan: A Step-by-Step Business Plan Workbook
  • Managing Cash: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Financial Control
  • Your Place in the Marketplace: A Simple Guide to Your Small Business
  • Understanding Commercial Lending: The Question and Answer Guide
  • Understanding where You Stand: A Simple Guide to your Company's Financial Statements.

Click here to go to these resources.

Financial Scorecard

Fintel Scorecard is a free tool that allows you to quickly benchmark your company's financial performance against similar-sized businesses in your industry. You will need the following information to use this tool:

Number of employees

Net sales

Net profit

Accounts receivable

Inventory

Total current assets (receivable + cash + inventory)

Total assets (current assets plus equipment, property)

Total current liabilities (payables + principal due on loans for this year)

Total net worth (total assets - liabilities)

Click here to go to the tool.
Consider Expanding Your Idea of Success: Become a B Corporation

Converting your business to a B corporations (benefit corporation) officially acknowledges that you include social and environmental factors in your definition of success. B corporations have been legally recognized in most states. Becoming a B corporation requires filing a form with the Secretary of State, which changes your incorporation papers. With this change, you are notifying your shareholders that the company will be making decisions according to a triple bottom-line. Forming a B corporation requires an annual fee, which is used to audit or visit companies periodically to make sure their actions match their intent. Note: Converting to a B corporation does not affect your corporate tax status (S or C).

Click here for information about B Corporations - what they are and the benefits of becoming one

Even if you don't become a B Corporation, you can take an assessment to compare your company with best-practices of a B Corporation.

Click here to take the B Impact Assessment
Business Model Assessment

This Business Model Assessment has been specifically designed to help small to medium business owners evaluate their business model and determine areas to improve.

After taking a 28-question assessment, you will receive an email with your score and suggestions for business improvement. If you do not receive the email within a short period, check your junk email box - sometimes the spam filter puts it there.

Click here for further information and to go to the assessment.