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Business operations are subject to a number of internal and external risks, as are ownership interests in businesses. How organizations and their owners address these risks can have a significant impact on the value of businesses and interests therein. An enterprise risk management (ERM) process involves identifying risks relative to an organization’s objectives, assessing them for likelihood and impact, developing a response strategy and monitoring progress. A well-defined ERM process framework can protect and create value for organizations and their owners. Smart Business spoke with John T. Alfonsi, managing director at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC, about how ERM precesses can…
With margin pressures, cost reductions and ongoing economic uncertainty on most corporate agendas, a company’s supply chain has become a key driver of growth. The relationship between the supply chain and senior finance leaders is more important than ever as C-suite executives work to build a cost-effective operating model. Yet, in “Partnering for Performance: CFO and the Supply Chain,” a recent EY survey that looks at the impact on the business when the CFO and chief supply chain officers collaborate, only one-quarter of finance executives describe their relationship with their supply chain counterparts as a true business partnership. Worse, only…
Do these terms sound familiar? ■ Vision ■ Strategy ■ Quality ■ Mission ■ Commitment Come on, you can admit it. Aren’t there times when corporate-speak makes you nauseous? Don’t get me wrong; I live in the corporate world. It’s from there where my bread is buttered and bills are paid. Yet, those running the big businesses often forget what the keys for optimizing success are, thus garnering less than stellar results. The construction of a high-performance team needs to be centered on the how. Having worked intensely with executive teams in the last five years, we take an unconventional…
Count on Bob Lacy to be one of those business leaders who won’t be trying to calculate the hours his employees spend away from their work as they track their brackets or sneak a peek at the March Madness action on their computer, smartphone or tablet. “It’s fun to do and it’s a good thing for the culture,” Lacy says, referring to activities such as bracket wagers, Super Bowl squares and fantasy sports. “It’s just another form of camaraderie. Nobody is forced to participate. Much like our run club or the company employee lunch we do every month or our…
Thursday, 27 February 2014 14:39

How to transition your small business to an ESOP

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Having a sound exit strategy in place with respect to departing shareholders is imperative for any company. This is especially true for small businesses in which the departing shareholder is a key cog in the company’s management and day-to-day operations. A departing shareholder also faces the issue of finding a market to be adequately compensated for his shares. “Companies and individuals are faced with the daunting task of finding a market for the shares being sold, the fear of a targeted acquisition in which the purchaser would drastically alter the landscape of the company, and the various costs and time…
The goal of any incident response is to minimize the impact of a negative event on an organization’s objectives. This involves responding to an incident as quickly and efficiently as possible, making good decisions to limit further damage and repair any damage that has been done. In order to accomplish this, an organization should have a corporate response plan (CRP) in place that is ready to go at a moment’s notice. A CRP typically includes an oversight committee that will design the CRP and oversee the work of the corporate response teams. Smart Business spoke with James Martin, managing director…
Expert witnesses are frequently used in the courtroom by attorneys. While many qualified experts exist, the “right” expert can greatly assist counsel and the litigation with his or her testimony. An expert witness can offer testimony about a scientific, technical or professional issue in a court case. Finding the right expert is often a difficult task, but attorneys generally look for several attributes when selecting expert witnesses. Smart Business spoke with John T. Alfonsi, managing director, Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC, about the qualities attorneys look for in an expert witness.What are the key attributes an expert witness should possess? Attorneys…
Leaders who execute well are more likely to add to the bottom line, be on the fast track to success and earn additional growth opportunities. One particular cohort of leaders I worked with recently identified experts across their company, interviewed them and summarized the critical skills of execution that emerged from the discussions. These critical skills of execution include: Know the vision and strategy Successful execution begins with knowing the end goal and establishing a clear strategy to achieve it. Planning and preparation are key factors, but take care to not overcommit, which may lead to discouragement and burnout among…
When trying to learn about an individual, many companies turn to online background checks. However, this could be a mistake as much of the available information may not be fully verified, which is why many businesses turn to a licensed investigator to help provide a more complete and accurate picture. Smart Business spoke with Theresa Mack, CPA, CFF, CAMS, CFCI, PI, a senior manager at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC, about working with a licensed investigator to help your business uncover the information you need.Why hire a licensed investigator? Most online or database-driven background checks are actually ‘record checks.’ In other…
Challenging times present opportunities for organizations to perform detailed assessments of their operations. Performing operational assessments can help organizations identify, mitigate and take advantage of the risks that they face. These assessments focus on process design and execution risks. “When properly performed, operational assessments identify areas where process design and execution risks are not aligned with an organization’s risk tolerance,” says James P. Martin, a managing director at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC. Smart Business spoke with Martin to learn more about operational assessments.How can operational assessments help? Organizations must achieve a diverse set of strategic objectives. This is accomplished by…
On Aug. 13 the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) exposed proposed changes to the standard auditor’s report that have the potential to impact the relationship between auditors and their clients. “Practitioners, issuer entities and attorneys dealing with accountants’ liability matters should all understand the implications of the proposed changes,” says Barry Jay Epstein, Ph.D., CPA, CFF, a principal at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC. Smart Business spoke with Epstein about the changes and their impact.What are the main proposed changes to the auditor’s report? The proposal most likely to generate controversy is that which requires identification of what the auditors…
With increased regulatory demands and constant threats of fraud and misconduct, businesses have to watch their backs, especially when it comes to finances. In many cases, having a traditional accountant is not enough. Instead, you may need someone who has not only accounting skills, but investigative and analytical skills as well. In other words, you need a forensic accountant. “Forensic accounting enables business owners to get control over possible financial fraud and mismanagement and, more importantly, to deter it before it occurs,” says James P. Martin, CMA, CIA, CFE, managing director at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC. He says forensic accountants…
Executives often wonder why they need to have machinery and equipment appraised, but these appraisals are important components of business today. “Typically, appraisals are performed because of buy/sell agreements, mergers and acquisitions, business valuations, partnership dissolutions, insurance, bankruptcy, property taxes, financing and Small Business Administration lending. Other reasons would be divorce, estate planning or other estate issues, retirement planning, cost-segregation analysis and litigation support,” says Theresa Shimansky, a manager at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC. Smart Business spoke with Shimansky about how machinery and equipment appraisals are typically handled. What is the useful life of an appraisal? Generally, an appraisal is…
Art was 58 when he realized that his company might have passed him by. He had been with the same employer for 35 years. He still loved the business, enjoyed the young up-and-comers and genuinely respected his boss. Yet, he did not feel like as valuable of a contributor to his company as he was in years past, and it bothered him. Finally, Art’s friend Peter asked him what bothered him most. Art replied, “The thought of being viewed as obsolete. It scares me from a career standpoint and hurts me personally. I don’t know how to say this to…
Business operations are subject to a number of internal and external risks, as are ownership interests in businesses. How organizations and their owners address these risks can have a significant impact on the value of businesses and interests therein.“An enterprise risk management process involves identifying risks relative to an organization’s objectives, assessing them for likelihood and impact, developing a response strategy and monitoring progress,” says John T. Alfonsi, managing director at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors.A well-defined enterprise management process (ERM) framework can protect and create value for organizations and their owners, he says.Smart Business spoke with Alfonsi about ERM to better…
Emerging EntrepreneurWINNERAl Goldstein, president of Pangea Properties, candidly admits that he believes real estate is an entrenched industry, with a “good ol’ boy” network.Nevertheless, Goldstein and longtime high school friend Steve Joung fought and clawed their way past that hurdle when launching their new venture, Pangea Properties.While they did not know much about the real estate market, they did know the Internet/marketing data side of the business, and wanted to provide a better product to a market they felt was underserved. They wanted to incorporate technology and best in class customer service to the rental market in multifamily apartment complexes…
ServicesFINALISTThe inspiration from mentors that Heather Sanderson received while developing as a professional didn’t go unnoticed — it helped her become an entrepreneur. While raising a family as a single mother in California, she met other successful women entrepreneurs at networking events, and the wheels began to turn.When she relocated to the Chicago area in 2001, she cofounded Overture Premiums & Promotions based on her desire to start a promotional marketing agency that was more than just a distributor and could act as a creative branch and provide integrated marketing strategies to its clients.Using the financial and operational experience gained…
TechnologyWINNERAndrew Sieja began his career as a computer programmer specializing in knowledge management solutions and Web storage — and after a few years, the entrepreneur bug bit him. In 2001, he and two friends pooled their resources to form their own software-consulting firm, kCura.After a few years, Sieja, president and CEO, realized that to be a market leader and to have the highest quality of employees, he had to make difficult decisions that might not be popular. There was a department that continuously launched products lacking the quality necessary for the company to maintain its market position. The situation was…
 Private Equity/Venture Capital BackedWINNERWhen they first got into the health insurance business, neither Brandon Cruz nor Clint Jones had much knowledge about the industry, except that there had to be a better way to utilize the Internet to help both the health insurance companies and the individual consumer.This lack of familiarity allowed them to “think outside the box” and be innovators in the industry. Cruz, the president and chief technology officer, and Jones, CEO, founded GoHealth in 2001.With their energy and skills to understand, challenge and help reshape a complex market for health insurance, these entrepreneurs stood apart from others.While…
Health CareWINNERChiro One Wellness Center is not just a simple chiropractic practice that helps with neck and back pain, according to CEO and founding partner Dr. Stuart Bernsen. He also sees it as a way to turn the patient experience upside down, build a patient community, educate patients, find the cause of problems rather than just treat symptoms and focus on prevention.Prior to starting Chiro One, Bernsen tried other ventures, such as LifeWorks, which was a consulting practice designed to teach young residents. However, Bernsen quickly realized that he was setting up others for success and then sending them off…
Industrial and DistributionWINNERWhen Paul Jones joined A.O. Smith Corporation in 2004 as COO, the company was operating in a subdued, slow-growing industry and had no primary focus. With his years of experience with companies such as General Electric, Midwest Electric and Greenfield Industries, Jones quickly realized what was needed.In order to maximize current assets and provide the largest return to the investors, Jones and his team would need to refine the company focus from being just a water heater and electric motors company — the focus would have to be on the area where the company had a comparative advantage…
Parties often have lengthy negotiations before they enter into a final written contract. Various promises and representations are made and relied on during those negotiations.“Be sure to incorporate all important terms and promises into the final written contract,” says Shelby Drury, of counsel with Novack and Macey LLP. “Later, if there is a dispute that results in litigation about the contract, the court is unlikely to allow either party to introduce evidence of promises or representations that are not stated in the written contract.”Smart Business spoke with Drury about the admissibility of promises or agreements that are not stated in…
One of the primary functions of management is to understand what is actually going on in an organization, as opposed to what is supposed to be happening. However, for monitoring to be truly effective, there must first be good communication, a culture that promotes ethical behavior and a solid understanding of the particular organization’s risk factors.“Organizational monitoring is not just about protecting a company from fraud,” says James P. Martin, CMA, CIA, CFE, managing director at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC. “Monitoring systems can help ensure quality, that customer needs are being met and that the company is doing everything else…
The enterprise risk management process helps businesses identify hidden dangers. If used correctly, it could also uncover opportunity. James P. Martin, managing director for Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC, shares how risk management is beneficial.Q. How might risk affect company value?A. Risks are uncertainties in the business environment. Alone, they do not degrade a company’s value. Degradation of value often comes from management making poor decisions based on incomplete or erroneous information. Sometimes, this is from long-standing assumptions about the business or the competitive environment that are not founded in fact.The objective of enterprise risk management is to engage the entire…
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 20:00

Five strengths of the vulnerable leader

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The biggest misconception in corporate America is the thinking that vulnerability and weakness are synonymous. They couldn’t be more opposite. If you don’t think so, think about the kind of managers you want to work for and respond yes or no to the following: Has all the answers. Does not ask for suggestions on the ability to lead more effectively. Refuses to confront sensitive interpersonal issues. Frequently keeps office door shut with a sign on it that says, “Not Now!” This last one may seem like a joke. It isn’t. At a particular organization, this is promptly displayed for all…
Since infiltrating the business world, the use of social media has increased at an incredible rate. Last year, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings caused considerable commotion in the financial community when he announced via Facebook that Netflix had exceeded 1 billion viewing hours in a month for the first time. There was heavy debate as to whether it was appropriate for a high-level executive to divulge material information regarding a public entity’s success through social media.Fast forward one year and the SEC just released a statement in April allowing companies to make announcements through social media outlets provided investors have the…
In a world where electronic data transfer is becoming the accepted norm, the definitions of such terms as “books of original entry” and “data set” are constantly changing. Check ledgers are being replaced by backup files and seven-column pads by accounting software. Some remote accounting and data storage systems, often referred to as cloud accounting, are virtual in nature.Smart Business spoke with Todd Jolicoeur, tax senior at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC, to learn more about how technology has affected age-old accounting tools.What are books of original entry?When it comes to accounting that still utilizes column paper and a 10-key calculator,…
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