Rodger StephensOver 25 years managing and growing businesses

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Recent Answers

Hi Nitin, I am a business performance expert and past finance department manager. One option available to you which gives you big benefits is to get (or use) an online accounting software system with good Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable features which also perform multi-currency transactions. Why is this important?

1) Automation of billing (An Accounts Receivable feature set) makes the transaction easy, reduces your overhead efforts and reduces costs (with links allowing invoicing with paired electronic auto payments by clients/customers, auto-recordkeeping and auto-bank deposits)
2) Disbursements to two or more parties in the way you describe (through Accounts Payable) may be easily done, in any currency, and with an electronic payment without much overhead cost or effort.
3) Your sales costs and profit figures may be automatically directed to your books where any reporting such as sales, costs and financial statements may be quickly retrievable due to no need to redirect transactions past the initial automated transaction.
4) All of the above allows you to eliminate unnecessary administrative tasks and focus on your best use of your time.

Many of today's online accounting software systems may do this. Also, there are newer and lower cost transaction processing services embedded in the payment processing features so these transaction costs are coming down from the past high fees of PayPal and other online processors. Also, traditional credit card transaction fees (Mastercard, American Express, Visa) are beginning to feel big pressure from competitors (these are your better options to evaluate) so fee reductions are happening almost anywhere you look in the marketplace. You can thank Bitcoin (or all cryptocurrencies) for pressuring these traditional processors into lowering their fees.

For low transaction processing fees, I suggest you attempt some kind of aggregated purchasing power through this kind of accounting software with the features you desire. Why is this an advantage? Because hundreds or thousands of others use this same system, you can gain collective purchasing power, and lower transaction fees, by having a significant number of users using your same system, all demanding lower fees and additional options. Next day bank deposits are also happening, compared to the past transaction settlement time of 2-4 days.

While QuickBooks may or may not be you preference, this system may provide this larger feature set you describe. Other online accounting software competitors in your home country may also provide these same features...just look for a large user base, a history of operating a good company, Software as a Service (Skas) business model, and the full accounting features you mention above for features supporting your best automation of Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and rapid reports. Other larger accounting software providers (such as Microsoft Great Plains, Workday, etc) and more, are also offering these kinds of features.

If you want to get a detailed list of these online accounting software systems in the marketplace today, please see this link for small/medium businesses accounting software offerings. Most, or all of these should have the features you seek.

Good Luck!
Rodger Stephens, CPA, CGMA
Business Performance Expert

Hi, your question is right up my alley...I'm a business growth and business valuation expert. I often position clients to exit their businesses for a variety of reasons. Please allow me to give you some simple, informative tips.

Your best approach is planning...planning applied to good operational and financial performance driven by a good growth plan over the next 3-5 years leading up to your sale.

Specifics are many and complex, but the formula is simple: 3-5 years from now, your future potential buyer will look at your revenue/cash flow growth (for the past 3 years) and your future projections (reasonable projections) to determine your that time. You'll need to show them a great picture of the past and the future when you do!

So here's what you can do today to give create this great picture:
Do a valuation now. Be sure it includes a projected valuation for each of the next 3-5 years. This projected valuation will be based upon financial/operational projection(s). This means your future valuation is stated, provided you achieve these projections.

Projections are all about forecasting all/each department activities and the resulting company wide financial statements which reflect the financial performance of these projected activities.

In your valuation projections, be reasonable, but do some reaching at the same time. Don't over reach, but reach for reality here! Then use this projection as a financial/operational roadmap to set company targets and plans for the next 3-5 years. This means setting key, detailed marketing, sales, service and other targets that if reached, means you are achieving your plan and consequently, your future valuation. This may also mean setting events on a company calendar which support this plan. Include your company leaders in the planning if you are a collaborative leader. When complete, give the targets to your company leaders, set their expectations to meet these targets, then support them well to do it. Give them their place in the plan, their instructions, give them incentives for reaching targets if necessary, and then work the plan as a team so you can grow into the forecasted valuation. Feel free to have some alternative projections which allow you room to either fall short on some planned goals or exceed others. Be sure these alternative projections give you known valuations in advance. This will give you room for flexibility should conditions change (hint, they often do, and can be for the better!)

I hope this helps. I'm available if you need more...this can be a complex topic, so I encourage you to explore it carefully before doing it.

Rodger Stephens, CPA, CGMA
Prize Performance LLC
Business Performance Expert

Hi, I'm Rodger Stephens, and I'm a business performance expert, growing businesses for the last 25+ years. Here's a few suggestions to help your business to grow...the method is simple, but unchangeable...

1) Find out what $$ you can allocate to bringing in new members. Having $100k in revenues is great, but your income statement/cash flow statement probably tells you the cash available for marketing is actually less.

2) Using the $$ you've allocated, find out what marketing methods and means are available to you. This is a situation where the dollars drive what marketing options you have available, so be sure to determine your budget first.

3) Methods of marketing may be:
A) Small $$
-A client referral program - flush out the details for how to ask your clients to bring in people they know. Offer them something to make it attractive for them. It doesn't need to be expensive. Perhaps a seat in a class/meeting or two. Other offerings of thanks may be attractive also.
- Online advertising or pay-per-click (PPC) can have big results. Budgets are set by you, so you can control your costs. Google Adwords/PPC is king here.
- Hold an open house and promote your business to new/interested people. When they arrive, be sure to collect contact information so you can market to them later. Attract attendees by using the client referral program, online ads or pay-per-click.

B) Medium $$ - Join your local chamber of commerce. They often allow members free or reduced price advertising through their website and events. A few hundred dollars per year is usual for costs here. Other of their offerings will allow you to spend more $$ to put your company in the spotlight at events or as an annual sponsor. This can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to many thousands.

C) Big $$ - TV advertising could be successful for you because all people are potential meditation practicers. This can be an expensive proposition, but the exposure could be very large, especially if you are broadcasting in a major metropolitan area. Costs involve producing a commercial and paying for advertising airtime. There are companies that specialize in packaging commercials and acquiring airtime for you. Look for small to medium sized marketing firms that include these kinds of services. Your commercial could also be offered through online video means for no airtime costs. For online video, Google/Youtube is king.

Other means and methods are available to you, however, I'm leaving many off the list as they may be ruled out for your particular use.

Be sure to set goals by the number of members you need. When you hit your goal for new members, think about resetting your goal to get more if that's still an option given your capacity.

Best of Luck to You,
Rodger Stephens, CPA, CGMA

Hi, I am a business performance expert with over 25 years of experience doing this kind of work you are asking for.

If your systems cannot keep your online store stocked, and your customers are leaving, you have a BIG problem that threatens the existence of your business.

We live in a world today where people want what they want NOW and not later. They won't buy if they can't get it NOW.

Automation of your inventory management is a must or you will lose business. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but in the world of internet sales, customers pay by the click and if they are not clicking, you need to react FAST!

I suggest you automate and properly stock your in demand merchandise or you will not have a business in the very near future. If you need to finance the right information system, I suggest you get on it right away.

Good Luck!

Good Morning,

Your question may appear to be a simple one. As a CPA, CGMA, and business performance expert for over 25 years now, I get questions like this from my clients often.

Your options are not clear from your question, however, I will steer to you to where you need to look to determine what options are available to you:

1) Your company structure will determine some of your options. This means are you a Corp (C corp or S corp), LLC, partnership/multi-member LLC. Due to the 10% held by others, I'm sure your not a sole proprietor.

2) Any operating agreement you may have will also define more of your options. Operating agreements can hold many terms of how you operate your company, including ownership changes, so I cannot give you any advice here without knowing if you have one and what's in it, but the contents will flush out more options.

3) In the absence of an operating agreement (this is always possible) you may need to take "politically and legally prudent" steps. That means you'll need to work out any sale of your stake with your fellow partners.

4) Once you've flushed out your options available to you, you can then set the steps you need to take.

5) Your steps will need resources to help you. Business resources such as guidance on the sound business steps to take, and negotiations to conduct, while keeping your business rolling, as well as legal resources to put any agreements on paper.

Because this is complex, by legal and business measures, I encourage you to call me for more accurate information to help you.

I hope this helps!

Good Morning.

Your question is one that many companies offering any kind of a software or service contract may face. That means there are at least several market ready solutions for you. I've had about 25 years of experience in selling, implementing and profitably tuning the business systems and software systems like this one, and for several years of that time, was an employee for Cognos and Oracle, as well as holding certifications as a CPA and CGMA. From this experience, I've placed (and been certified) for many of these kinds of software systems for companies serving their clients under a contract-for-service arrangement and renewals are only one important aspect of making them work well for you.

If you are a growing company, and have many clients holding these contracts, your best bet is to automate your business process as much as possible. To do this, you may want to consider the less expensive solution of extending your CRM System into a kind of contract management/field service software system. This extended system is designed to provide functionality that manages and tracks the services you may give to a client, but also tracks the contracts the clients pay for that same service. Features can be very rich, and may extend beyond what you need for simple contract management, however, seeing the services side of the contracts will allow you to view your costs of servicing your customers under these contracts whether by phone or by service technicians that travel. If you have SalesForce CRM (the gorilla of CRM's) you may want to inquire into ServiceMax as they have a system that may fit your need that matches the architecture and integrates with the platform and SalesForce's system.

Salesforce not your game? Then one source for finding lists of other different systems is . Another source would be to inquire into your CRM provider and ask them if they have created any contract management/field service management software modules that integrate with their system. A third place to look is to google the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management systems. This report, while there is a fee, will list many of the players in this software space and their strengths/weaknesses.

Good Luck!

Hi, I've got a considerable amount of experience in assisting my clients with understanding what they are up against for many kinds of projects, so let me clarify the "It Depends" answer with some rough estimate $ Figures.

For a Wordpress experience where you take an exiting Wordpress website template, and add a plugIn with no customizations, and you use a well experienced consultant for an hourly rate, you can reasonable expect a $5k to $10k cost. Installation is fast and easy. Most of this cost will be for content setup. Corresponding maintenance is approximately $250-$1,000/year and will be focused on keeping plugins up to date and may include keeping you content up to date.

For a low scope of work effort, where features are few, functionality is easy and where custom coding is added to an existing website, and some content loading is needed, you can expect a $10k-15K cost. Most of this cost will be for coding and testing. Corresponding maintenance is approximately $1,000-$1,500/year and will be focused on adjustments to the functionality.

For functionality that is deeper and more robust, you may need to custom code a greater scope of features. This kind of online marketplace can be $20k or more. The greater your functionality needed, the higher the price will go. I cannot give you an upper limit here because the possible features are many. 70% of your cost will be for coding and testing. Corresponding maintenance is 5%-10% of your build price per year and will be focused on adjustments to the functionality.

A word of caution. Many websites promote low cost. This doesn't mean you will get the features you want or give your website users a friendly experience. This kind of low cost choice is a trap. If your website is intended to be your primary means of promoting your business, and generating revenue, you should pay a qualified professional to set it up in quality fashion, with the features you need and leave your users with a pleasant image of your company. That comes with a cost.

Good Luck!


Partner disagreements happen all the time. The good news is, most of the time, they are disagreements that get resolved for the better.

I'm a business performance expert, a CPA, a CGMA and highly experienced at leadership and managing companies. Allow me to suggest some options for you.

This looks like you and your partner need to reach an agreement on how to operate the company. You can do this verbally or you can do it in writing with an operating agreement. I suggest you get this agreement in writing. The results you seek are to clearly define, and understand between both of you, the way both of you may smoothly run the company.

Operating agreements may have many different segments in it including (but not limited to) defining everything from who has an operating role vs who doesn't, your responsibilities, how the company ownership and profits are split, entry and exits of partners and even the method of accounting chosen.

Once you decide with your partner who has authority regarding your product direction, the person responsible should provide good leadership to see the products are well developed, and the other should follow their respective role as agreed and defer product development decisions to the other.

If one partner breaks out of the agreed role, you should have a private, positive conversation with your partner to set your boundaries and remain in your agreed roles. When this happens, you need to have this conversation within a reasonable amount of time after the disagreement. Don't be afraid of what they think, because your product and your company are at risk. Just be respectful and let them know they crossed the line and ask that they step back behind it.

I hope this helps!

Please feel free to call me if you need help with this operating agreement, including a sample for your reference. To prepare it, you can expect you'll need a legal expert and a business expert to contribute to your desired operating agreement.

Best of Luck!
Rodger Stephens, CPA, CGMA
Business Performance Expert

You have two issues to sort out here....

1) You were the only game in town until the competitor came along, and guess what, the prices got lower. This is normal and natural in the evolution of companies and their competing products. Eventually, at least once competitor decides to make an issue of pricing. Indeed you have a choice to make. I often advise my clients this way: If you have a great product, and it's priced higher than your competition, you must provide your marketplace with a way to view your product as worth the price. If you cannot to this, then by default, you must lower your prices and by doing so, give up much of your profit.

2) Your competitor's pricing has crept up to meet yours. Without any real indicators blaring to me the truth, I'm betting (from experience) your competitor temporarily lowered their price to gain market share (successfully) but did it at such a low price, they cannot make a profit on the customers they gained. This means you should keep your higher pricing and repeatedly broadcast to your marketplace that you have a superior product at a higher price. Doing this successfully means your competitor will be doing business in an unprofitable zone and will not be able to sustain this for long...and will either come up to meet your pricing or suffer from damaging lack of profitability and cash flow.

I suggest you take the strategy of forcing your competitor to either suffer or meet your price. Please do not lower your price, or lose profit, unless you are unable to publicly justify your product as superior!

Good Luck and get cracking on justifying to your marketplace that your product is superior and worth the additional price!

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