Tactical vs. Strategic. This is one of the challenges fractional CFOs have in educating their potential clients. Bookkeepers and accountants perform day to day transactions. This tactical role is meant to address the need for recording the company’s financial information. The fractional CFO is the strategist who studies the future of the company in order to help business owners understand, anticipate, prepare for and gain advantage from coming changes. We use foresight to describe what could happen in the future and in some cases, what should happen in the future based on industry trends and metrics.  Businesses have a lifecycle: start up, growth and reinvention.  If they become stagnant they will likely not make it. Fractional CFOs understand where their clients are in the lifecycle and present recommendations based on the business owner’s vision and goals.

What is the first thing a fractional CFO should do when starting an engagement with a new company? It’s not understanding current cash position or even the cash forecast. It’s understanding the client needs. Some business owners only want help with strategic plan analysis while others want hands on input on current financial statement strengths and weaknesses.  An experienced CFO understands that he or she must ask questions to identify the needs of clients. The standard checklist that a fractional CFO uses may not apply to all organizations because business owners have a variety of skill sets and needs.

In any new engagement, the CFO should obtain an understanding of the client’s current cash position and their cash forecasting.  The CFO should review the client’s policies and procedures. In order to bring the most value to each engagement, the CFO needs to understand what the client wants to get out of the relationship.  There is no such thing as a “standard agenda” or a “standard checklist.” Experienced CFOs understand the need to take a holistic approach to understand how businesses thrive regardless of the industry they are in. Working as a fractional CFO allows us to tailor our skillsets to best meet the needs of each client.

For more information about the fractional CFO role, please e-mail your questions to donna@rayburnbusinessstrategies.com.

What Causes Business Sales to Fizzle Before They Make it to the Closing Table

We found this article does an excellent job of explaining the most common reasons we have experienced working with business buyers and sellers. Please contact us if you have questions about what you read below. donna@donnarayburncpa.com

By Tim Bellon | March 23, 2020

There is a sad fact about business sales that nobody wants to talk about. Most of the time, businesses that are listed for sale never make it to the closing table. As shocking as that may seem, even if you hire a business broker and do all the right things, circumstances outside of your control may doom your deal. This is why it’s important to work with someone that has the experience to take corrective actions before it’s too late.

Here are the biggest reasons businesses don’t sell.

Poor financial record keeping

Financial record-keeping is the scorecard of how well the business is doing. During the due diligence process, the buyer will examine these records to gain more confidence in their decision to move forward. In addition to other criteria, they will look to see if the business has enough cash flow to support a living wage for the new owner, the ability to repay the debt (for the business purchase), and a healthy profit to repay the downpayment and/or use for reinvestment. Having sloppy records breeds doubt and skepticism. If the buyer discovers an anomaly, they will dig deeper and ask questions about other line item expenses and their purpose. Once that happens, mistrust creeps in and it’s very difficult to recover.


Almost always, a seller will have unrealistic expectations of what their business is worth. However, a good broker will be able to explain market conditions, show industry comparable sales data and help price the business where it will sell. 

Lease transferability

Sellers should look at the details of their lease BEFORE they list their company. Here’s why: The lease should be able to be transferred to the new owner and release the previous owner from all liability. If this contract language does not exist, or an agreement can’t be made with the landlord, it will kill most deals.

Poor credit

Good intentions alone don’t get businesses sold. A competent business broker will qualify potential buyers and make sure they have the creditworthiness to get a business loan. Spending time with people that cannot follow through with the purchase is a waste of time.

Owner and the technician

Most small businesses start with an expert technician that goes out on their own and takes their chances with entrepreneurship. To build real value in a business, eventually, the owner has to turn their attention to being a CEO and leading employees. If the business only makes money when the owner does the technician work, it severely discounts the business’s worth and can make it unsellable.

No contracts

While customers love “no contracts,” buyers hate it. It’s because contracts give some guarantee that after the business is sold, revenue will still come in regularly and there is less chance of business disruption. Prudent business owners find a balance between providing customer flexibility and fixed agreements.

Unrealistic timing

It takes time to sell a business. Planning up to 3 years in advance leaves time to get systems in place and make other maneuvers that will maximize the business worth. Selling a business is not like selling a car. It’s a complicated transaction that will likely be the largest the seller will ever have in their lifetime.

Unwillingness for Seller to hold a note

Most sellers don’t realize that they may be asked to hold a note and extend terms to the buyer. The reason is, if the bank is giving a loan, they may want the seller to hold a note as well to mitigate the bank’s risk. While this is rarely good news for the seller, it is a reality in many  cases. Being inflexible on holding a note means that you will have to have an all-cash buyer, in the event bank lending is not possible, and those are fewer and harder to secure.

Lack of confidentiality

When a buyer (and seller) have a mutual interest in moving forward with a possible transaction, one of the first things to do is require the buyer to sign a nondisclosure agreement. This is the legal document that ensures that sensitive confidential information is not shared with any outside parties. This is important because if employees, competitors, or vendors find out that the business is being sold, it could cause disruptions that can be harmful to the business and of course, ruin the deal.

If you have questions about getting your business ready to sell or if you are running across these categories while attempting to purchase a business, please contact donna@donnarayburncpa.com.

Leaders should never say…

In my practice, I coach senior management on alternative approaches for better communication with their employees. Much of the frustration from both managers and employees is centered around the way they communicate with each other.  For example, when an employee shares an idea they have with their manager, the last thing he/she wants to hear is “be patient” because what he/she hears is, “This isn’t going to happen for a long time.”  So a better approach would be to ask them to develop a plan to make it happen. Then the manager can assist in refining the idea while taking small steps for implementation.

Another phrase employees do not want to hear is “you aren’t ready.” All they hear is “I don’t believe in you, yet.” It’s best to figure out how to get them a portion of the experience they are requesting while you or a member of your team can act as a silent shadow. Again, small steps give encouragement.

Sometimes I hear leaders referring to “when I was coming up” or “that’s not how it was…” These young emerging leaders don’t want to talk about yesterday’s hardships, they want to talk about tomorrow’s possibilities! Instead make it personal by sharing “What I have learned that works well is…”

This last phrase I hear all the time and it couldn’t be more false, “He must not be working because he isn’t here.” It is a fallacy that people are productive contributors just because they are physically in the office. A Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, states that remote workers logged more hours than their office counterparts and were more engaged. I encourage my client’s to hire self-motivated and empowered employees for flexible work arrangements because I know that if an employee can balance work and home responsibilities, he/she will be highly successful in both areas. I personally am more efficient and effective in a flexible workplace. All the consultants I know and use on a regular basis are far more effective in less hours than their former employee counterpart.

Generation Z – different motivation from Millennials

For any business to be successful, it has to understand the motivations behind it’s employees. We all don’t come from the same mold. “Millennials were raised during prosperous times but Gen Z was largely raised during a global recession and the painfully slow recovery following.” says Ken Tysiac, editor of the Journal of Accountancy, August 2017 edition. Gen Z membes are born from 1995 to 2012. So, while millennials entered the workplace looking for “meaning” in a job, Gen Z members are focusing on salary as their most important factor.  Since Gen Z members spent their lives connected to news and social media 24 hours a day, they have a fear of missing out on things relating to their career paths. They want many different experiences at the same time, so they want to explore multiple roles at the same time. What’s more interesting is that Gen Z prefer communicating face to face but in quick sound bites.  I found some tips to keep these employees engaged:

  1.  Give them meaningful work – they want to have a positive effect on the organization
  2. Effective management – they want clear and achievable goals, effective coaching and useful feedback.
  3. Positive Work Environment – they seek flexible work arrangements, diverse workforce and recognition
  4. Growth opportunity – they look for training, support and continual learning culture
  5. Trust in leadership – they want to believe that leadership will help the organization achieve the mission, be transparent and honest.

Fair Labor Standard Act Proposed Changes-will it affect your company?

Update 7/30/17: Stay tuned – still no final ruling on this issue. The U.S. Department of Labor published a Request for Information for the overtime rule on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. The RFI is an opportunity for the public to provide information that will aid the department in formulating a proposal to revise these regulations which define and delimit exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements for certain employees. The RFI period lasts 60 days so a ruling may not come in 2017.

2/1/16: For my clients, deciding if a salary employee should be exempt or nonexempt from overtime is one of the most challenging questions for their Human Resources departments because the rules currently can be subjective. The proposed regulations will hopefully provide more guidance on this determination.

On June 30, 2015, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) released proposed regulations that would modify certain provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Specifically, the proposed regulations increase the minimum salary required to be earned by an employee in order for that employee to be exempt from the FLSA overtime requirements.The U.S. Labor Department is looking to a Spring 2016 date for publishing the “Final Rule” revising the regulations defining the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s Section 13(a)(1) exemptions. If the “Final Rule” were to be published on April 1, 2016, and if its effective date was set for 60 days later, then employers would have until May 31, 2016 to comply with the new regulations. In any case, the effective date will be sometime in 2016. This will impact employers of manager level “white collar” employees such as administrative assistants, convenience store or other retail supervisors and fast food assistant supervisors among others.

The biggest impact of this proposal is to higher the threshold for exemption from overtime compensation from $23,660 earners to $47,840 earners.  The Department is also proposing to automatically update the standard salary and HCE total annual compensation requirements to ensure that they remain meaningful tests for distinguishing between bona fide executive, administrative, and professional workers who are not entitled to overtime and overtime-protected white collar workers. Experience has shown that the salary level test is an effective measure of exempt status only if it is up to date.  Stay tuned for the “Final Ruling.”


4 Common Leadership Fears…

I have found 4 common leadership fears in my informal survey of local business leaders. These fears are Criticism, Making Bad Decisions, Responsibility and Public Speaking. So, if you are a leader who is sensative to hearing about your shortcomings, request anonymous feedback from your team. Making bad decisions is the best and worst thing to happen to you. With practice, meaning, the more mistakes you make, the better you will get in making good decisions in chaotic situations. This is one of the most powerful skills you can develop.  It can be daunting when so much rests on your final say. But having the right people around will help you lead effectively. As far as public speaking, just like anything else, repetition overcomes fear. So, the more you speak in front of an audience, the more confident you will become.  Let others see your real self rather than projecting an image you want people to see. Choose to like your audience rather than worry if they will like you.  If you are interested in overcoming these leadership fears, please contact us at donna@rayburnbusinesssolutions.com.


What do Prospective Buyers or Loan Institutions Look for in Your Company?

We often get asked this question and no matter what type of industry a business operates in, the answer is the same. Prospective Buyers or Loan Institutions initially look for increasing revenue and profits along with assets higher than liabilities. Who wants to give money for a company that owes more than it has? If the company passes the initial test, then they look at growth potential, solid management team, quality products or services, strong sales team, systems and processes in place and an overall strategic plan for the company.  If a business owner believes he/she is going to be in this position in the future, he/she needs at least a year, preferably 3 years, to prepare and ensure that all areas are in the best shape possible before talking to a buyer/loan institution.  Rayburn Business Strategies has an experienced team of professionals to work with your business to get your company in a positive purchase or lending position.

How to make advertising work for your business

These are the lessons I have learned over the 25 years in the accounting field. Marketing shouldn’t ever be cut from the budget. If thought out properly, marketing can make your business succeed beyond your expectations. If done haphazardly, you are throwing money down the drain. If you are going to advertise your business, you should think of these things before you start spending money.

1) Determine who your ideal client is – who is your target market?

2)Develop a unique selling proposition – what makes you stand out among your competitors?

3)Every place your company appears must have the same logo, same tag line and the same colors.

4)Promote the benefits of using your services/products over all others. Consumers want to know what is in it for them.

5)Just because you like your ad, doesn’t mean it’s effective – your prospects may not take the bait if it doesn’t speak to them.

6)You have 3-5 seconds to grab someone’s attention. The headline should be your focus and super simple.

7)Client testimonials are usually successful – Educational/Informing ads are also good bets.

If you have any further questions, please call 813-404-6991 and we can assist you in  your marketing plans.

Welcome to 2015! Here is some information you should take note…

The 2015 business mileage reimbursement rate is $.575 per mile up from $.56 per mile in 2014.

Also, the new minimum wage for 2015, effective January 1, 2015, is $8.05 per hour. Tipped employees direct hourly wage is $5.03 per hour as of January 1, 2015.

The employer mandate under ObamaCare has been delayed for small businesses with 50-99 full-time equivalent employees to start insuring workers by 2016. Those with a 100 or more will need to start providing health benefits to at least 70% of their full-time equivalent employees by 2015 and 95% by 2016.


Quick tips for increasing cash flow

Here are a few tips to increase your cash flow:

-Minimize Accounts Receivable by billing timely, using incentives to get customer payments faster and follow up on collections

-Keep inventory at a manageable level

-Look at your customer base and focus on your most profitable products/services

-Great Customer Service=More Sales

-Require at least 50% payment at time of order and the remaining balance due at delivery