Reflecting On Entrepreneurial Management with Questions (Segment II)

Preface: “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” Tony Robbins

Reflecting On Entrepreneurial Management with Questions (Segment II)

Credit: Donald J. Sauder, CPA | CVA

Does your management team regularly have more tasks scheduled to complete than time available per week? “Good things take time, as they should. We shouldn’t expect good things to happen overnight. Actually, getting something too easily or too soon can cheapen the outcome.”— John Wooden. If your management team is focused on completing the 90% of the necessary tasks of the week, and 10% remain uncompleted each week, you may feel that you’re maximizing the organization resources. 10% is best put in perspective reflecting on what 10% means to God. To be effective you should complete all necessary tasks successfully each week, or eventually you will either see atrophy in employee management morale or customer satisfaction, as little omissions accumulate.

Does your business have a strong relationship with a legal firm?

Attorneys are like dentists, when you need one, they can never be too trusted with the responsibility. Investing in the expertise and knowledge of good attorney is prudent for any businessman or journeyman. Whether you’re developing a blue-ribbon contract or revising your company buy-sell agreement, don’t wait until you need an attorney to make the acquaintance. And just like you hope you never have to visit the dentist, the acquaintance with any trusted expert when you need it, will pay great dividends.

Does your management team solve Company problems effectively? Solving problems with-in business operations, sales, cash flow, HR, profitability, or strategy, requires work. Thinking through effective solutions is not easily accomplished, and often provides trusted consultants an opportunity.

Yet the effectiveness of solving any business problem is crucial to keep an organization functioning at optimal performance. For instance, consider the problem of an ineffective team member, or worse yet, management position. Does your business frequently make management decisions that provide only short-term patches vs. long-term solutions? Keeping a pulse on where the Company needs to bolster or improve effectiveness, understanding the root structure, and resolving those challenges will provide any business a clear edge in not only sustaining, but also gaining market share. If the resolution requires a trusted advisor, great Company’s will not look to simply chip and tar the roadway, but look to make improvements and resolve the problem so that all those following can enjoy an easier path towards the destination of a successful day’s work, day after day, week after week, and year after year.

Does your management team regularly discuss Company issues? As good healthy foods lead towards happy and healthy communities, so too does good communication lead towards a happy and healthy organization. When your team is aligned on core values, and core focus, communication will seemingly be easier among management. Continuing towards healthy communications to discuss issues on regular basis will help maintain the vibrancy of the Company culture, and lead to prevention of complicated deep root problems that could perhaps hinder or derail and organizations momentum, from festering into issues.

Does your business value your teams character more important than team profits? 

Too often businesses that have not built a solid foundation of core values, and a core focus do not realize that they have a unintended restriction on achieving the strategic objectives, because they lack the unified characteristic of adhering to any actionable team cornerstones. When a business puts profit first, without regard of services and customer satisfaction, they forget the maxim that great businesses have also have a great name amongst those they serve. Every customer wants a job well done. A heritage of 100% satisfied customers are the source of long term business successes.

Does your management team deliver the field performance you expect? 

 A capable management of team, is best summarized as “best this side of the Mississippi.” If your business can’t say that, then it should follow-up with the “working towards the capability to be the best this side of the Mississippi.”

Does management reward and recognize Company employees for adhering to or admirably exemplifying the company core values?

Customer gifts, manufacturing buildings, equipment, offices, or websites do not exemplify a company’s core values to customer. Your people exemplify the core values. To excel in any industry task people must receive appropriate training. To exemplify your company’s core values requires training too. The most effective way to develop and keep a company culture that lives it core values daily in the field is to appropriately and continuously encourage those core values to be exemplified.

Beyond good words and kind expressions, Company’s that continually provide rewards for those who exemplify that highest-standards of the company’s core values, also provide incentive and examples for the entire team to work towards continuously improved performance. These incentives can be small gifts, or bonuses, or any items of perceived value to individual team members.

Giving quarterly or monthly rewards for good behavior, i.e. exemplified cores values, is one small step towards a developing a company culture that outsiders see as a pattern to follow. Be creative, and remember Benjamin Franklin’s words quoted as saying, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Involve your team in developing and training with personalized incentives to reward them for adhering to or admirably exemplifying the company core values. And when you do that effectively, you’ll see that the benefits far outweigh the cost.

Reflecting On Entrepreneurial Management with Questions

Preface: The smart ones ask when they don’t know. And, sometimes, when they do. Malcolm Forbes

Reflecting On Entrepreneurial Management with Questions

Credit: Donald J. Sauder, CPA | CVA

Does your executive management team lead from example?

The healthy climate of a business, begins with good to great leadership. A well-prepared executive management team ready for the challenges of the business terrain will be positioned to guide a team more effectively than one with executive decisions simply based on whims and notions. An executive management team that arduously adheres to the core values and core focus of the business, invests time effectively, and in addition, that has a can-do attitude, will have a growing advantage towards gaining the field in any conditions. Continuous attention to what adds value for customers accumulates into lasting business success.


Does your executive management team invest the appropriate time to work on the business at least quarterly?

An increasing number of business leaders allocate specific time each month, or a week or more per year to clarify the path forward. With a rewinding and reflection on the business history and trends, to a fast forward on future projections, effective executive management teams think through both shallow and deep obstacles and opportunities for thee enterprise. These strategic times of working on the business are necessary for any journeyman or businessman to gain perspective aside from the daily “factory” routines.

In addition, lasting business successes are not achieved by happenstance. It is the product of appropriate planning and preparation as the business trends and grows. This includes digging deep wells from accurate market research and customer friendly product innovation onward to building strong foundations with a unified team culture including honing initial employee onboarding processes from development tracks of production to sales staff.

Does your business have adequate operational, financial, and employee risk safeguards? 


Risk management while often advised, is becoming increasingly pertinent to a thriving enterprise. Safeguards can include standard operating procedures, testing the team’s performance temperature daily, monitoring working capital levels weekly, and keeping communication lines open to communicate risks on the job site, customer deposits, or simply early warnings on negative indicators and trends the affect the sales pipeline.

Does your business have a clearly defined executive visionary and integrator? 


Businesses thrive best with team approaches. Visionary persons are always coming up with new ideas for the business, and are natural problem solvers. But visionary persons can’t do it all. Every business needs an integrator, the person who keep unity and focus on the tasks and priorities at hand, among the ambitions of sales, finance and field-work. While the visionary has their heads in the clouds on the next adventure, the integrator ensures the team is fully equipped with the right gear when the wheels lift off the runway. The visionary has the map and knows the direction, the integrator ensures the journeys an enjoyable and lasting success.

Does your executive team have realistic expectations for growth and profitability?


Every good business team want to earn net profits. Often growing a business owners associate increasing the number of employees with profitability. Yet business expansions required overhead costs. These overhead costs can vary from a new vehicle to more office space. The contribution margin of a new team members must be careful appraised with the associated costs. More than one business has achieved early success with low-overhead modular offices and make-do facilities, only to discover when they outgrew the primitive workspace, their margins would not support conventional costs. The prudent business will manage solid margins along with costs every quarter. If you choose a low overhead primitive margins approach, then don’t expect to achieve a grandiose perpetual growth rate, because the math doesn’t work perpetually without the appropriate margins.

To be continued…

Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness

Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness

Credit: Donald J. Sauder, CPA | CVA

The newly arrived and polished SBA guidance for the forgiveness of the famous COVID-19 business relief PPP Loans (Payroll Protection Program) is now being made available. The SBA PPP recently released a loan forgiveness application that clarifies the terms and conditions of obtaining cancellation of the low-interest indebtedness from the SBA’s PPP Treasury loans.

The PPP loan forgiveness application is available on the SBA website. Titled the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application the loan forgiveness application form is similar in features to the initial PPP loan application.

Four segments of expenses are eligible for PPP loan forgiveness. These include payroll expenses, business mortgage interest on debts incurred before February 15th, 2020; business rents and lease expenses on agreements before February 15th, 2020; and utility expenses paid during the Covered Period.

The covered period of the forgiveness is eight-weeks or 56 days, beginning on the date the PPP loan disbursements were received. For example, if the borrower received its PPP loan proceeds on Monday, April 20th, 2020, the first covered day is April 20th, and the last covered day is Sunday, June 14th. The Alternative Payroll Covered Period.

Payroll expenses per the SBA guidance permit forgiveness for a PPP borrower on qualifying payroll costs incurred during the Covered Period or Alternative Payroll Covered Period. Payroll expenses are considered incurred on the day the checks are distributed, or ACH debit is posted for the payroll expense.

The Alternative Payroll Covered Period permits payments for payroll on biweekly schedules to elect an eight-week period that begins on the first day of the first pay of the receipt of the PPP disbursement form the SBA. Payroll cannot exceed $15,350 per individual or an annualized salary of $100,000, or the eight-week compensation of 2019. The qualifying expense is the lower of the two costs.

Payroll expenses must be at least 75% of forgivable PPP amounts, and not merely the entirety of the PPP loan amount. Qualifying payroll costs include salaries, wages, tips, commissions, and paid-time-off [PTO.]

The applications require information on the number of Full-Time Equivalents (FTE) employees as of February 15th and June 30th. The SBA guidance provides exemptions for qualifying forgiveness reductions in FTE’s for purposes including but not limited to employees who refused good-faith written offers for rehiring, were fired for cause, voluntarily resigned, or voluntarily requested and received a reduction in hours.

Business interest payments on real or personal property and rent or lease payments on agreements signed and incurred before February 15th are qualifying expenses for PPP forgiveness.

PPP Loans to businesses of more than $2.0 million with require additional procedures for applicable forgiveness approval. It is advised that all PPP borrowers discuss and obtain appropriate professional counsel on the terms of PPP forgiveness application features.

Soaring Cash

Preface: Cash management is crucial during a financial downturn. This blog is designed to provide an awareness of proactive cash management to avoid a situation of illiquidity.

Soaring Cash

Credit: Jacob M. Dietz, CPA

“For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven,” according to Proverbs. Entrepreneurs sometimes painfully experience the flight of cash from the business. Sometimes cash flies away and nothing can keep it. Maybe the economy or a disaster destroys it. Other times, however, a wise entrepreneur can take steps to avoid the problem of no cash. Proactively consider what may be ahead, and actively avoid the pitfalls and seize the opportunities.

Time Travel

Imagine you are planning to scale Mount Everest. What should you take along? While you cannot physically travel ahead in time to see your exact needs, you can mentally travel ahead in time to see what you might need. What did other climbers need? What did you need when you climbed other mountains? Are there any weather reports you can read?

Likewise, you cannot literally travel through time to see what cash you will need and what cash you will have three months from now. Take a mental time travel trip, however, through the next several months.

For example, if sales in the second quarter are as strong as last year, how much inventory will you need? If sales are 75% of last year for the same quarter, how much inventory will you need? How much cash will you need to buy that inventory, or how will it be financed?

The statement of cash flows shows what happened to your cash over time. That can be a useful starting point, but especially with the current uncertainty it is no guarantee of future cash flows. Consider calculating different cash flow scenarios. Are you strong in all the scenarios? If not, can you get stronger?

Be Proactive

If you are feeling cash weak and see a Goliath roaring at you from the other side of the valley, then do not cower in your tent. Get your stones from the brook or develop a plan to get the stones.

How quickly should you move? Consider how quickly you must move. If cash appears to be stable for only a few weeks, then you may want to move quickly to shore up cash. On the other hand, if cash appears to be stable for at least six months, then you may want to bide your time to see how some of the uncertainty plays out before committing to one direction or another.

If you see that you will not be able to make payments, however, do not just ignore them and hope no one notices. Consider proactively going to the creditor and discussing options.

Some options you could request might be:

  • A moratorium on all payments for several months
  • Interest-only payments for several months
  • A waiver on certain bank covenants.

Do not limit yourselves to just these options, there could be other ways that you could proactively negotiate with your creditors if cash is tight.

It is beyond the scope of this blog, but also consider your options for new cash inflows and your options to minimize cash outflows. If you are unsure how to do this, ask your accountant for ideas.

The future is just ahead. Although businesses cannot live in the future, if they prudently plan for it, they may be able to take steps today to help the future.  Consider the possible scenarios before they hit you. Then, act at the appropriate time to avoid pitfalls or seize opportunities.

This article is general in nature, and it does not contain legal advice. Contact your advisors to discuss your specific situation.


Employee Retention Credit Available for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Preface: The employee retention credit is available for qualified wages paid from March 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020 for corporations as well as other entities, such as LLCs, partnerships, S corporations, and sole proprietors.

Employee Retention Credit Available for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

The Treasury Department along with the Internal Revenue Service have launched the Employee Retention Credit, designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The employee retention refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19.

Does my business qualify to receive the Employee Retention Credit?

The tax credit for retaining employees is available to all employers regardless of size, including tax-exempt organizations. There are only two exceptions: State and local governments and their instrumentalities and small businesses who take small business loans.

Qualifying employers must qualify in one of two categories to apply the credit:

1.The employer’s business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter.

2.The employer’s gross receipts are below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer’s gross receipts go above 80% of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter.

These measures are calculated each calendar quarter.

How is the credit calculated?

The amount of the credit is limited to 50% of qualifying employee wages paid up to $10,000 in total. Employee wages paid after March 12, 2020, and before Jan. 1, 2021, are eligible for the credit. Wages taken into account for the calculation are not limited to cash payments, but also include a portion of the cost of employer provided health care.

How do I know which wages qualify?

Qualifying wages are based on the average number of a business’s employees in 2019.

If the employer had 100 or fewer employees on average in 2019, the credit is based on wages paid to all employees, regardless if they worked or not. If the employees worked full time and were paid for full time work, the employer still receives the credit. If the employer had more than 100 employees on average in 2019, then the credit is allowed only for wages paid to employees who did not work during the calendar quarter.

I am an eligible employer. How do I receive my credit?

Employers can be immediately reimbursed for the credit by reducing their required deposits of payroll taxes that have been withheld from employees’ wages by the amount of the credit.

Eligible employers will report their total qualified wages and the related health insurance costs for each quarter on their quarterly employment tax returns or Form 941 beginning with the second quarter. If the employer’s employment tax deposits are not enough to cover the credit, the employer may receive an advance payment from the IRS by submitting Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19.

Pennsylvania Business Reopening Plan

Pennsylvania Business Reopening Plan (5.1.2020)

Jacob M. Dietz, CPA

In addition to construction reopening statewide like we mentioned earlier, some recreational activities are opening in PA on May 1.  A press release explained that across PA “golf courses, marinas, guided fishing trips and privately owned campgrounds may reopen statewide” on May 1.  “Pennsylvanians have remained resilient throughout this COVID-19 crisis, and as we successfully continue to flatten the curve to protect our physical health, it is critical that we also focus on our physical and mental health during these extraordinary times. As the weather warms and daylight lengthens, enjoying time outdoors is an important way to manage stress,” Governor Wolf explained in the press release.

If you are stressed about the Covid-19 ramifications, consider going camping.  Perhaps the wonders of creation will help you refocus and reenergize.

Business owners and gig workers did not qualify for unemployment under the old pre-Covid-19 rules, however the CARES Act can allow them to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).  Some business owners that are not allowed to be open in PA will be collecting PUA, even as businesses in other industries reopen.  Programs like the PUA and the Paycheck Protection Program are part of the government’s plan to sustain people and businesses through the Covid-19 challenges.

PA Food Recovery Infrastructure Grants
Demand for charitable food has increased.  A “wholesale” food bank in Leola indicated that their average output is about 3 semis per day.  Governor Wolf’s administration made various changes to the grants, including “expanding the list of potential partners beyond retailers and wholesalers to also include farms, processors and cooperatives.”

PA Plan to Reopen
PA has been broken into 6 regions. The Wolf administration is targeting a May 8th switch from red to yellow for the north central and northwest regions, per an April 22 release.  The release explains that “As regions or counties move into the yellow phase, some restrictions on work and social interaction will ease while others, such as closures of schools, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers, as well as limitations around large gatherings, remain in place.”

Lancaster in Southeast Region
Some are unhappy that Lancaster is listed in the Southeast region, which is the same region as hard-hit Philadelphia.

“Lancaster County is south central PA, not the southeast. This would be unacceptable and not based on data and outcomes….  That’s why my Senate Local Government Committee along with the Health & Human Services Committee will be holding a joint hearing on the creation of these regions,” said Scott Martin, PA State Senator.

Fortunately, however, “a county can make the list for consideration to open if they have had fewer than 50 new confirmed cases per 100,000 population reported in the previous 14 days” Governor Wolf tweeted, so there may be some hope for Lancaster County if they can control the new infection rate even though Lancaster is in the same region as Philadelphia.

Some Other States
Missouri Governor Parson’s “Stay Home Missouri” order is set to end after May 3.  Missouri will still have safety guidelines in place as they enter Phase 1 of the recovery plan.

New Jersey’s stay-at-home order is still in effect.  Governor Murphy released some principles as they go forward, including decreases in new cases in a two-week trend.  It is unknown when that will happen.

Maryland Governor Hogan has a Maryland Strong Roadmap to Recovery dated April 24, 2020 that “is designed to get Maryland moving again.”  The document, however, declines to set dates on when reopening will happen.

Kentucky Governor Beshear explained 10 rules to reopening again in Kentucky, including a phased return to work.

Tennessee is ahead of some states in reopening, including allowing dining at restaurants.

The Future
There are plans for reopening, but the exact nature and timing is not certain, and some things may go awry. What can go awry, and what can be done to succeed if some things go awry? Consider grabbing a pen and paper, going to a quiet place, and taking 15-30 minutes to write down what can go wrong. More importantly, write what you can do to manage that risk. Burns concluded his poem with “An’ forward tho’ I canna see, I guess an’ fear!” Perhaps a better path would be to guess and trust.