Tag Archives: Consulting

WIMS Consulting Family Office Funds

5 Ways Family Offices Can Optimize for the Present & Future

Over the past 50 years, the amount of family offices has grown to an estimated 3,500-5,000 as ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) investors have increasingly used this approach to leverage and manage their wealth. Whether it be through Single-Family Offices (SFO’s), Multi-Family Offices (MFO’s), or a combination of both through syndication, wealthy families have seen the advantages of customized structures that meet specific needs and go much more in-depth than just financial investments.

With family offices varying in size, scope, purpose, and operation, it’s impossible to define the specific actions family offices should take, but it is possible to highlight key themes and challenges that most family offices face and offer advice on how to deal with common situations that arise. The increased level of sophistication for these investors has created a need for constant communication and transparency to ensure everyone involved in deals is on the same page and held accountable to achieve the desired results.

 

Vision – Clearly Communicate Goals to Foster Alignment

Family offices need to communicate their goals and alignment to all players involved, from their internal teams to management at their portfolio companies and everyone in between. With varying scopes of family offices, the common goals tend to surround income, total assets, and legacy. There is a varying degree to which these topics are discussed and articulated among family offices. Mapping out priorities that articulate the desired purpose and direction for the family’s wealth will encourage proper decision making and the right strategy. The proper structure of the family office can then ensure that governance framework, operating processes, teams, and advisors are set up in a way to support the family office’s purpose and values to achieve specific goals. Further, it will help identify the right KPIs/metrics to track and measure against as well.

 

Operations – Set up the Proper Delegation of Duties

Once everyone knows and embraces their role, family offices can then fill in the gaps where they need help, making the whole process much simpler and clearer. These gaps can be filled through streamlining operations via outsourcing. Outsourcing to specialized agencies not only provides expertise and more eyes on what matters, but it also allows family office executives to focus on the areas they’re passionate about.

 

Deal Flow – The More Opportunities That Come Your Way the Better (if it is manageable)

The best deals typically come through referrals, but there are also plenty of solid opportunities that come in via cold calls, emails, pitch events, or online databases stacked with potential investments. No matter the source, access to these deals is paramount to succeeding in the private investing world. A few sources we have found useful are AngelList, PitchBook, LinkedIn, CrunchBase, etc.

In more of a nontraditional move, family offices can also find deals and collaborate through equity crowdfunding. A capital raise can start as Reg CF and later convert a round to Reg A. Start-ups are increasingly seeing the value in crowdfunding to raise initial capital as it helps to validate their business model and market fit. With less regulation than private equity, investors can also benefit from getting involved and take more ownership of great ideas at an early stage.

 

Syndicate Investments to Reduce Risk, Increase Upside, and Achieve Economies of Scale

Most family offices already co-invest through syndication with other family offices. Yet this only increases the need for transparency from all firms involved: the family offices, their teams, portfolio companies, and any outsourced agencies that are involved in establishing a smoother operation. Syndicating deals allows you to reduce the downside by committing less capital, it increases the amount of relationships/resources that the target company can leverage, and it also enables each family office/fund to be able to split expenses when appropriate.

Finding and deploying the right consulting firm is a key example of this, due to the essential need for trust and objective parties when dealing with a large amount of wealth from a small number of sources. If family offices do choose to outsource certain operational functions (like marketing, sales, finance, etc.), a firm that provides constant communication and quick action to resolve issues is necessary. With the right external agency, family offices can concentrate on the roles that align with their purpose and passion with respect to running a successful operation. Not to mention, they save even more capital by not having to hire full-time positions to do what these outsourced specialists have been doing well for years.

 

Succession Planning – Always Keep an Eye on the Future

Succession is one event that family offices must have even though it can be uncomfortable. Having a contingency plan in place allows for smooth transitions and operational stability across the board when the time comes. This could mean planning for the transition from one generation of principal(s) to the next, or from one family office executive to the next. CEO’s tend to be in their position for an average of approximately 5 years. For family offices, managing directors and executives tend to hold these offices for 10 years as they have established a rapport with the investor families. This means that much more of the operations are in the hands of the family office executives than in traditional businesses.

When succession occurs with these individuals, it can be tough for the family office to stay on course if objectives and procedures have not been communicated. Understanding the role of the family, the family office, the portfolio companies, and any external firms in the event of succession is key in mitigating risks and obstacles that can cause disruption. With less regulation and oversight regarding practices of family offices, a lot more is done on an informal basis, leading to the possibility of overlooking key operations. With a clear and defined plan, it provides an easier transition when any type of succession inevitably occurs.

 

Conclusion

As you look to scale your operations, investments, and grow, there are clearly a variety of routes to take. The key is determining the route that best fits your family office’s vision, the portfolio companies you want to invest in, and then ensuring that all parties involved, whether in-house or external, all understand and are committed to executing it.

Written By: Mike Simmons and Evan Shirreffs.

 

THE PRIMARY MISSION OF WIMS CONSULTING IS TO HELP YOUR FUND AND ITS PORTFOLIO COMPANIES GENERATE A HIGHER ROI NOT ONLY INTERNALLY, BUT ON BEHALF OF YOUR INVESTORS AS WELL. WE CAN ASSIST WITH SCALING YOUR INVESTMENTS TO HELP INCREASE VALUATIONS IN ADVANCE OF ADDITIONAL FUNDING ROUNDS, LIQUIDITY EVENTS, EXITS, OR IPOs. WE CAN PROVIDE A LOT OF DIFFERENT SERVICES, CREATE AND IMPLEMENT A ROBUST STRATEGY, AND EXECUTE EACH TACTIC, BUT EVERYTHING THAT WE DO TRULY BOILS DOWN TO THAT ONE SINGLE OBJECTIVE OF ADDING MORE VALUE TO YOUR FIRM.

Private Investment Funds in 2020

Private Investment Funds in 2020: Focus on Optimizing & Streamlining Existing Portfolio Company Investments to Grow amid Volatility

The whirlwind of 2020 has rattled businesses across the country, and it has been no different for the private investment/fund industries. Even prior to this year, trends were moving toward funds (private equity, venture capital, family office, etc.) establishing platforms that focused on a suite of key business functions, such as business development, marketing, finance, PR, etc. to assist their portfolio companies with scaling their operations. Some funds have stood up internally1, while others have engaged external strategic partnerships.

In the first half of the year, a slowdown in new deals was caused partly by valuation discrepancies between buyers and sellers, resulting in a 63% decrease in activity in the Americas region2 after the onset of COVID-19. According to a PitchBook report, U.S. private equity exits dropped by 70% (1st 6 months of 2020 compared to year-ago period) because private equity firms marked down portfolio companies; they chose to hold investments rather than sell them3. Although this may sound alarming, a study by consulting firm Willis Towers Watson showed that despite a drop in exit transactions in the first half of 2020, there is little evidence of forced exits at least3. Furthermore, private equity firms raised $348 billion in the same time frame, which is only 10% shy of what they raised during the first half of 20192.

If funds have the capital raised but are not deploying it because of the risk of an unfavorable valuation or investment, the question must be raised: what have they been doing in the meantime?

In addition to simply boosting investments for current portfolio companies, funds are increasing aid in the strategic side of these businesses as well. “Increasing returns during ongoing fiscal and geopolitical uncertainty pushed top executives from PE firms to maintain focus on value and digitalization, and a commitment to developing the organizational and business models of their portfolio companies.”4 Many Funds have turned to delegating these duties to outside firms.

Outsourcing operations, sales, marketing, and other core functions provides a new perspective for funds. With another set of eyes on current investments, funds can squeeze every penny of revenue out of their portfolio companies to boost chances of success. Outsourcing allows current portfolio companies access to the same professional team as their fund, which consolidates consultants, agencies, people, and expenses for a more efficient operation filtered through a single entity.

Furthermore, with investment funds specializing to extreme degrees these days1, funds can focus on what they have specialized in, while letting the collaborative agency facilitate other aspects of the business. This allows them to keep the main thing the main thing so they can keep investors happy and informed, as well as assist their portfolio companies with more high value activities.

Not only does outsourcing provide more expertise with experienced professionals, but it tends to cost less than hiring someone within the fund or directly at the portfolio companies to manage these responsibilities. VC start-ups are staying private for an average of eight years longer than they would have back in 2000. It only makes sense to provide them with an experienced team for business development, marketing, and more. Without a team, the firm must manage all of this themselves or, for example, hire a business development manager. The average venture capital business development manager salary is nearly $80,000, not to mention additional benefits and expenses. Eight additional years of paying this salary (not including escalators and other contractual advancements) raises that investment to $640,000 allocated towards one person, when a team of experts can be hired to do an even better job.

Over the last decade, the appeal of going public has decreased as companies do not want to deal with inevitable scrutiny after releasing financials and other information. There has actually even been a shift of public companies switching back to private, with 8 out of 10 of the largest buyouts being Public 2 Private (P2P)4. Many companies would rather stay private, or be bought out through M&A, than to receive heat from the public. If a start-up does not go public, having that business development manager can continue as a growing yearly expense (regardless of value), even if the business isn’t in a growth or blitzscaling stage. Similar to the recession from a decade ago, companies are thinning out and hiring more contractors because it is a more manageable and flexible commitment.

Further along this line, “We are starting to see some changes that may signal a strategy shift by private equity to help struggling portfolio companies amid the crisis. Additional stake purchases by private equity investors are up by count and volume compared to same period last year and second- and third-round funding’s are also up from last year. Both are ways to inject cash into companies that need it most now.”5

In volatile times, more of the focus should be on what can be controlled. “Leaders should identify digital innovations such as business intelligence, big data analytics, machine learning, and business processes automation to help companies evolve and gain the skills needed for better performance and outpacing the competitors.”4

While not every business model is 100% perfect, and there are pros and cons to each, there are certainly many advantages both financially and operationally to leveraging a consulting firm to assist funds and their portfolio companies with scaling. Regardless of whether the macro environment is volatile and capital is tougher to come by, or when conditions are great and capital is flowing freely, running a tight ship focused on streamlining, growth, and ROI will always be in style and appreciated.

Written By: Mike Simmons and Evan Shirreffs

References:

1) https://tomtunguz.com/is-venture-capital-worth-the-risk/

2) https://www.institutionalinvestor.com/article/b1mqkqqx3g0k5v/Private-Equity-s-Answer-to-a-Frozen-Deal-Market

3) https://www.pionline.com/private-equity/private-equity-deals-tumble-20-2020s-first-half-pitchbook

4) https://bspeclub.com/2020/04/17/private-equity-2020-outlook-the-start-of-a-new-decade/

5) https://news.bloomberglaw.com/bloomberg-law-analysis/analysis-how-is-private-equity-optimizing-the-downturn

The primary mission of WIMS Consulting is to help your fund and its portfolio companies generate a higher ROI not only internally, but on behalf of your investors as well. We can assist with scaling your investments to help increase valuations in advance of additional funding rounds, liquidity events, exits, or IPOs. We can provide a lot of different services, create and implement a robust strategy, and execute each tactic, but everything that we do truly boils down to that one single objective of adding more value to your firm.
WIMS Consulting for Funds and Investors

Introducing WIMS Consulting for Funds & Investors: Private Equity, Family Office, Venture Capital & Their Portfolio Companies

Your Fund and it’s Portfolio Companies’ Future Partner for

Marketing, Sales, Finance, Operations, Investor Relations, Development, & More.

Your Private Equity, Venture Capital, or Family Office fund is undoubtedly already great at its core functions. Between raising funds, selecting the right portfolio companies to deploy capital to, and managing the day to day operations we suspect that you’ve got those things covered, or at least you have a solid handle on them.

Where we come in is supporting your fund and its portfolio companies with everything else.

The primary mission of WIMS Consulting is to help your fund and its portfolio companies generate a higher ROI not only internally, but on behalf of your investors as well. We can assist with scaling your investments to help increase valuations in advance of additional funding rounds, liquidity events, exits, or IPOs. We can provide a lot of different services, create and implement a robust strategy, and execute each tactic, but everything that we do truly boils down to that one single objective of adding more value to your firm.

Our approach and work product is all meant to be measurable, KPI (Key Performance Indicator) focused, metrics-based, results-oriented, and top and bottom line enhancing. We are dedicated to staying ahead of the curve by always learning the latest and most innovative best practices along with the most efficient way to implement them.

The role we can play will vary based on your fund/company’s existing and/or desired structure. WIMS Consulting can function as various fully outsourced departments, or as your external CMO, Head of Sales, CFO, support team, etc. Or we can simply act as a consultant/solutions provider on a specific project.

It is our aim to provide concierge level service and be the “easy button” you press when you just need and want to focus on your core functions yet need to get everything else done too.

 

Our Value Proposition the reason we will make a great partner to your fund and its portfolio companies’:

  • Deploy us to help manage and scale your portfolio companies’ in any of the areas we highlight throughout our practice areas.

  • Consolidate various consultants, departments, service providers, and bring under one firm to help streamline operations, maximize areas of expertise, and achieve economies of scale.

  • We help aggregate data across a variety of sources, filter it, and convert these metrics into a compelling story to ensure your investors, board members, management, and stakeholders remain informed and happy with progress across the entire fund and its portfolio companies.

    • Further, when the desired results aren’t achieved and adjustments do need to be made, we ensure that story is told as well, along with preemptively bringing potential solutions to the table.

  • We are entrepreneurs ourselves, yet also worked in the corporate world too. We’ve operated and grown businesses and we’ve led funding rounds. We’ve worked with and for funds directly too. Our team has acquired quite a bit of experience across a variety of stages in the growth cycle of companies and across many industries as well.

Our Services Include:

  • Marketing Strategy & Implementation

    • Fractional CMO

    • Website Development​

    • Marketing Automation

    • Creative – Content Creation & Distribution

    • Data Analytics

  • Sales – Bus Dev/CRM Strategy & Implementation

    • Salesforce.com, Zoho CRM, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, and more.​

    • Lead Generation

    • Sales Strategy and Deployment

  • Finance & Accounting

    • ​Fractional CFO​​

    • Financial Modeling & Forecasting

    • Financial Reporting

    • Accounting & Bookkeeping

  • Operations & Support

    • Investor Relations​

    • Project Management

    • Administrative Support

  • Software & Platform Development

    • Full Stack Software & Platform Development​

    • Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Platform & Application Development

    • AI & Machine Learning

Visit our website for more information or to set up a call.

 

WIMS Consulting Logo Blue

The WIMS Consulting 2020 Rebrand

There is just something about transition, a new decade (even though January 1st seems like it was already another decade ago), and a new mission to undergo a massive scaling of one’s company that requires a bit of a shakeup. Huge transformative shifts force all involved to level up and evolve for the better. They demand a heightened sense of commitment to excellence and discipline.

As they say, the things that got you here will rarely get you there.

The first 6 years of WIMS Consulting have been great, the company has grown double digits every single year (with 2 years at triple), and despite the state of the market, this year is already on track to achieve exponential growth compared to last year (in fact it economy appears to be helping it along even more as companies go all-in on digital). That said, I have still been playing too small and remain far from where I want the company to be yet. It is time to ramp things way up and kick things up another notch.

A rebrand is often mostly symbolic, it is a way to re-engineer how you would like the public to see and perceive your company, and to re-calibrate the first impression for those that do not know you yet. It also allows you to set the tone for current and future employees, partners, and clients. It is an opportunity to recommit and reestablish your values of who you are and who you aspire to be.

Up until this point we have been far from perfect and have certainly underdone some growing pains along the way. As difficult as it is to admit, not every single client project has exceeded expectations for one reason or another. On the flip side plenty of them have gone really well too. Regardless of which side the responsibility lies solely with us for better or worse. Moving forward, that level of accountability and transparency must be the standard. A rebrand is a way to draw a line in the sand, a demarcation to demonstrate that whatever happened before going forward this is the way we will do business no matter what.

Now for a little background and insight on the creative. The spartan warrior is a deeply personal symbol to me since I was young. For one, I grew up attending a school called Milton Hershey (from kindergarten to graduation), and it was our mascot. We learned about their culture and their values (mostly the romanticized and positive version, not as much of the negatives side of it).

Then when I watched the movie 300, wow what an impact it made. To see a group of soldiers, and a King no less, willingly sacrifice themselves with such honor and grace for the good of their tribe, it really stuck with me. I know it was embellished a bit as all movies are, but that didn’t take away from the impression it left.

Between Milton Hershey and the culture resonating so much throughout my life I even got a tattoo of the spartan helmet. For those reasons and others, it sounded like a great place to start when considering what I wanted my company to look like.

Fortunately, when leveraging history to inspire the future you can learn from, and remove, the negatives in order to improve upon an ideal, allowing you to adopt the things that translate. Further, WIMS Consulting is not adopting ALL their values after all (for one we are very much capitalists). “The word “spartan” means self-restrained, simple, frugal, and austere” plus they were clearly pretty violent and brutal. So again, it is not exactly a direct comparison.

The positive side, such as their discipline, commitment, team-oriented collaboration and community are things you build a company around. Others include being strategic, thoughtful, well organized, and assertive. They were creative in their approach to problem solving. The soldiers in their army were only as strong as the person standing next to them and the collective unit as a whole. They tempered the potentially corrosive nature of outsized individual egos. They played offense and defense equally well. They had an unwavering obligation to do whatever necessary to achieve a desired outcome.

Now THAT is what I want the WIMS Consulting cultural values to represent and embody. I want the company to uphold its commitment and dedication to its community (clients, employees, and partners) to that standard of excellence every single day and in every single project and task. This is the mindset required that will subsequently lead to producing outstanding work and deliverables for our clients. It certainly won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing really is.

Hopefully, we nailed that impression and give this perception with the logo and throughout the supplemental components of the branding. More importantly however, is that we maintain the standards and values in a clear and tangible way. Stay tuned for more, but I would love to hear what you think so far!

WIMS Consulting Logo Blue     WIMS Consulting Logo Gold

Charlotte 2020

Charlotte 2020: Grow Your Business in the QC

If you live or do business in Greater Charlotte then you already know there’s a whole lot to be excited about in 2020 and beyond. The opportunities here are incredible, the city and state of NC in general are growing at a crazy fast pace and receiving all sorts of recognition nationally in “Best Places to Do Business” type articles. You can see for yourself (here, here, and here). Figuring out where to get plugged in or get more involved can be overwhelming, so I wanted to give you a few quick initial steps (4 to be exact) to take in the new year to kick things off, and I’ll elaborate and expand on this further throughout Q1.

Whether you’re new here, haven’t arrived yet, grew up here, or have been here for years now I highly recommend investing your time getting to know other professionals who are doing big things in business. Networking here has led to a substantial ROI for me and my businesses and I can’t encourage it enough. There are tons of organizations and resources with which to leverage at various price points and time commitments based on you and your company’s needs.

Personally, I’ve been involved in various capacities at board and committee levels with the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (formerly the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce). I’d highly recommend it as a great place to start and get involved. However, to be fully transparent, after merging with the region’s economic development entity the organization’s mission and day-to-day focus are shifting pretty substantially.  Rather than solely focusing on greater Charlotte, The Alliance now has 15 counties across both NC and SC in its purview. Needless to say, that while it’s a positive shift overall that provides incredible opportunity, the scope and reach has shifted dramatically. Serving that wide an area comes with new challenges as well however, so clearly the day-to-day operations needed to change with it.

While I still very much intend to remain involved as a member and hopefully more, it would be a disservice to you if I didn’t say the new mission has simultaneously left a pretty sizable void for those with a more narrow focus of making an impact in greater Charlotte and don’t have the resources to have a target market that expansive. Again, yet another opportunity

This is where the Charlotte Business Group comes in. (Full disclosure: I recently joined the board in 2019 because I knew this transition was happening and wanted to prepare accordingly.) There are still a ton of business professionals who just have the capacity to focus on Greater Charlotte (it’s hard enough covering the Lake Norman to Rock Hill/Fort Mill area as it is, let alone a dozen plus other counties). So we decided to step in and do just that. We’re providing networking opportunities with our mixers, educational opportunities with our panel discussions, and we recently launched a membership program to be able to ramp up additional opportunities in the community (as well as with more focus on fostering referrals and connections but much more to come as the year rolls on). The focus will remain greater Charlotte, but everyone who wants to do business here is more than welcome to get involved. If you and your organization wants to align with that mission please reach out to me to set up a membership or sponsorship and we’ll get you plugged in.

Next up is another really non-negotiable if you’re serious about Charlotte. You need the Charlotte Business Journal in your life, by way of subscription (print and digital), attending their events, and you NEED the Book of Lists.

Charlotte Inno (formerly Start Charlotte) with their newsletter and PitchBreakfast events among others are also truly invaluable. Whether you want to learn about local start up success and origin stories, or see what other events are coming up on the horizon (they host many incredible ones themselves as well) you at least need to sign up for the newsletter and take it from there.

 

We’ll leave it here for now, as that’s 4 invaluable steps that you need to take in the new year if you haven’t already. But I’ll be adding much more with respect to the specific Charlotte focus moving forward (including a non-profit edition). Would love to hear your feedback on what organizations you’re involved with, what you’d recommend and to continue the conversation as it’s one that’s a major priority for me.

Data Analytics Dashboard

How Anyone can Build a Custom Data Analytics Dashboard

If you could carve out an hour a month for analysis in order to save a dozen hours of work, the one-hour investment would be worth it, right?

How about if that same hour led to crucial details about your sales trends and customers insights?

On top of all that, what if that same one-hour investment came at no additional cost to you?

Seems like a pretty great deal.

Welcome to the benefits of an Excel-based analytical dashboard.

Benefits of an Analytical Dashboard

You’ve most likely heard of the powers and benefits of data analytics. You’ve probably seen examples from things like POS systems, Tableau, cloud-based software, and many others.

Some of these benefits include the following:

  • Saving you time and money through efficiency and more impactful insights

Spending time looking over your dashboard saves hours of debating anecdotal or piecemeal results and helps guide you towards the best path forward

  • Giving you better insights into your customer to improve marketing campaigns

Campaigns based on hard data are more successful as you can target your intended customer more effectively

  • Taking the guesswork out and make great, data supported, decisions in less time

The high end services all have their merits, but in a small business where you might not have the budget for those services (which are also potentially far beyond the capabilities you actually need), plus a large learning curve, those services don’t always make the most sense.

By learning (on a much faster learning curve) to make a dashboard in Excel, you can get the benefits you want in a completely customized dashboard at no cost (since you already have Excel on your computer).

 

Why use Excel for this

Let’s start with some common business questions.

How did your sales do last month? How does that compare to the same month of the prior year? How about compared to the pace you’ve been running at this year?

Now how about separating those numbers by project, item, or client? How about by distribution channel? Sales rep? What about the specific days you had promotions?

The first set of questions is somewhat easy to have a gut feeling for, if nothing else. You might even have some quick analysis created for you in QuickBooks (or similar software).

However, the second set of questions represents another level deeper. You might feel a bit less confident about your gut feeling. They require you to dive into the data each time you want to look, and maybe even anecdotally piece it together from a few different sources. It’s kind of a hassle, but they’re important insights, so it’s worth the time.

Here’s the good news from Excel – you can answer all of those questions, from top line revenue down to whatever level of detail you need, and have them at your fingertips in one place!

With a simple export of data from whatever source you need, you can populate dozens of custom views that you’ve templated and turn it into your very own analytical dashboard!

The only time intensive piece is building the template and framework for all your custom views.

After you create that, you’re essentially just updating with data each week/month/etc. and looking it over for trends. Making changes to it? Duplicating views with variations? Actually, all pretty easy.

The Excel Dashboard

Here is a very quick sample dashboard that shows that topline sales numbers (black chart) followed by a few, slightly deeper, analytical pieces that help evaluate performance (gray charts).

When I say “very quick” … this dashboard took less than an hour to fully create. Real life dashboards of this level of depth take a similar amount of time. Getting significantly deeper into the data does not necessarily mean significantly more time to create though.

Only a few “next level” type questions are displayed (although these may only be half a level deeper), but they are meant to be representative, and the great feature about the “behind the scenes” of the dashboard is that the building blocks for all levels of analysis can be VERY easily duplicated to get at any question you need.

Take a quick look at the dashboard, follow it along the yellow markers, 1 to 5. Any trends jump out at you?

You can likely see the following in a quick pass:

  • Sales are up in 2019! (Callout #1) – by 22.1% if we want to be specific

  • There seemed to be a change in performance starting in February (Callout #2). Perhaps a new item was released? Or a new marketing campaign?

  • All Sales Reps are selling more this year (Callout #3). Shawn leading the pack with a 28.7% increase over 2018

  • In Store sales have grown by over 60%! (Callout #4). However, Online sales have shrunk a tiny bit.

  • Further diagnosing, it looks like Jennifer and Oliver have really improved their In Store sales, while Shawn has faltered there (Callout #5). Perhaps there was a training that stuck with Jennifer and Oliver? Maybe Shawn has just focused all of his attention on Online sales?

Those types of insights are crucial to running your business and can be seen quickly from the dashboard. On top of that, there are still tons of different ways to cut the data… by product, by product and distribution channel, by sales rep by month, etc. All of these examples are (almost) as easy as copying and pasting.

Creating the Backend of the Dashboard – a General Guide

We start with one of the building blocks of an Excel-based analytical dashboard. Simply, the Pivot Table.

Depending on your level of familiarity with Excel, Pivot Tables might seem like “that complicated next level” or “that tool we use every day”.

The truth is, everyone can easily be at the latter, and if you’re already there, you could probably be using them more even more effectively. Investing just a bit of time can have a very outsized benefit to your business.

Pivot Tables are fantastic, for all levels of users, because of a few main pieces of functionality:

  • Very easy to build, use, and manipulate

Drag and drop methods, no complex formulas, no macros or coding

  • Ability to create charts and dashboards from the Table(s) easily

  • Build automatically updating formulas off the Table to create new data elements

It deserves mentioning that the quality of your data is very important. If the data is wrong to start, then there is no point is doing any analysis.

First… a few tips on how to create a Pivot Table

Feel free to skip this section if you’re already familiar.

For a detailed “how to” build a Pivot Table, I recommend watching from ~2:30 to ~5:30 in this video. The rest of the video has some good explanations as well, but for a quick guide, the 3 minutes is really all you need.

One piece I would highly recommend changing though, is in the data selection piece.

Important – select the entire column in the data, making sure the headers are in row 1. This allows you to add data in the future and have it included in the pivot table without having to change the data range.

The boxed-in range is okay as “ Sample Data!$A$1:$E$13 ”, but would need to be changed if you add more data to the end of it. The better version’s range “ Sample Data!$A:$E” highlights the entire columns.

Onto Creating the Dashboard

Start with creating a Pivot Table, and from there it is really just about dragging and dropping fields, copying and pasting, and picking a layout!

  • Let’s say you begin by creating a simple Pivot Table with sales by month:

  • From there, go up to the ribbon and find the “Pivot Table Analyze” or “Analyze” tab, depending on which version of Excel you’re working with.

  • Select the “Pivot Chart” option, and out pops a variety of options. Select your favorite chart option (bar chart, line graph, multiple types, etc.) and boom! You’ve got a working chart to help you analyze!

  • Any time you change what’s in the Pivot Table that created the Pivot Chart, the Pivot Chart will change accordingly.

Example, if you limited the data to just “Jennifer” (Sales Rep filter), you’ll see only her sales in both the Table and Chart.

Tip for the aesthetics of the Chart

To get rid of the “buttons” or ugly looking gray bubbles polluting your chart, you can right click on any of them and select “Hide All Field Buttons on Chart” and they’ll go away (as shown below).

If you don’t mind their appearance, each button acts as a filter for the Pivot Table. So instead of scrolling over to the Table, you can filter right from the Chart.

  • From there it is just preferences:

You can add a chart title, hide the legend, and a lot of other customization by clicking on the Chart, and then selecting the green “+” button that appears to the right of the Chart (shown below).

Once you’ve got your first chart, you can then start the duplication process!
  • To make another Pivot Table and Chart combo, you can just select the entirety of the Table, then copy and paste it elsewhere on the sheet

Copying the Pivot Table to be replicated
  • Drag and drop the fields (from the Field List on the right) you want to look at in the new Table (ex. Sales Rep in place of Month), and then go through the same quick process to create a Chart

The premise here is that each Table you create is referencing the same data. Each variation is just how you want to cut the data for that particular view.

Note – the formatting you select for one chart will not transfer to a new chart. The easiest method is to pick from Excel’s preset templates, which are normally visually appealing enough – both the black and the gray Charts above are in Excel’s preset templates. You can always customize the look of every chart individually to how you want though.

Best practice is probably to settle on a color scheme and layout after you’ve created all the charts you want, that way you can quickly go through each and select the same layout all at once.

After creating however many variations that get to your necessary level of depth, you’ve now just created yourself a dashboard! Congrats!

Best Way to Create Formulas Based on the Tables to get Additional Metrics in your Dashboard

You may notice that some pieces in the above dashboard (the tables with headers that have blue background and white text) are not Pivot Tables or Pivot Charts. These are created using the same information though.

Enter the GETPIVOTDATA formula. It is one of the most complicated looking formulas, but one of the most effective to use.

Note that it is simply complicated “looking”, but not actually that complicated to use.

Here’s an example. We’re going to walk through the Sales By Month table in the dashboard above (and referenced below).

Let’s say you wanted to get that 41.1% “Growth vs Prior Yr” for Feb from the information in the Pivot Table.

Naturally, you would do the following (referencing picture below) U10 / T10 – 1 = 41.1%

When you go to do that though, this scary looking formula comes out:

Let’s break it down and look at the first piece, before the “/”:

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

Translating, it is saying the following:

  • From the Pivot Table

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • Grab the metric “Sale Amount”

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • In the Pivot Table located in cell S7

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • Given the following criteria, Year = 2019

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,“Year”,2019,”Month”,”Feb”)

  • And the second criteria Month = Feb

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sale Amount”,$S$7,”Year”,2019,“Month”,”Feb”)

You’ll notice the second GETPIVOTDATA (after the “/”) is the same formula, just referencing Year = 2018 instead of 2019.

It is the same formula as the nice and easy U10 / T10 – 1 above, just bringing in the functionality of the Pivot Table.

So why on earth would you actually use the complicated version?

Reason #1: Let’s say you add in another filter and the bulk of the Pivot Table shifts down by one row. The U10 / T10 – 1 will remain but will now be looking at a different month.

Reason #2: What if you changed the Pivot Table to include each Sales Rep’s details in each month (like below)?

Now that “U10 / T10 – 1” formula would be referencing Jennifer’s sales in Jan… not even close to total Feb sales.

If you used the GETPIVOTDATA formula, you would still get the result you want (Total Feb Sales Amount, 2019 over 2018) because you’re telling it what criteria to look at, regardless of what cells the intended data ended up in. It would still do $26,070 / $18,470 – 1, or 41.1%.

Note – in a scenario like the above picture, make sure Subtotals are enabled in the “Design” tab that appears when you click in the Pivot Table

Reason #3: You can completely customize the look of your created table, whereas you have limited aesthetic flexibility in the Pivot Table itself. I choose a blue header with white text.

Reason #4: You retain the copy and paste functionality of the “U10 / T10 – 1” formula but increase the accuracy of the formula.

Notice in our summary chart with each month’s “Growth vs Prior Yr”, we have the month abbreviation in the left column, then the % growth in the right column.

To utilize the copy and paste functionality of formulas in Excel, we just have to reference the month in the formula.

It is the same formula as above in every way except for the P9 in place of “Feb”. This just tells the formula to take the value in cell P9 as the criteria needed to be found in the “Month” section.
You can then copy and paste this formula to each of the months, and the “Growth vs Prior Yr” will fill out for each month, regardless of how many other variables are in the Pivot Table, or where the numbers you want are located (cell-wise).

Summary

So now you’ve learned…

  • The benefits of a dashboard, specifically one in Excel

  • How to make a Pivot Table

  • How to make a Pivot Chart based off it

  • How to duplicate those efforts (for efficiency)

  • How to reference the information in it to get analytical metrics that aren’t directly called out in the Pivot Table

  • (Most importantly) How to build your own fully functional, completely customizable analytical dashboard!

Updating the dashboard is an exercise that takes mere minutes to download the data and add it into your data sheet.

Reasonable time investment to make the dashboard, small time investment to update it, big business benefits.

WIMS BREWERIES & WINERIES

3 Marketing Tips for Breweries, Wineries, Cideries, & Distilleries

The brewery and winery industries have been fortunate to have experienced a major boom in public interest along with media attention over the past few years. Just opening a new location has been a major event that has typically generated a lot of buzz and received coverage by every Business Journal and local social media influencer alike. That’s not to say that marketing breweries and wineries has been easy of course, far from it.

Once the grand opening has passed, and the novelty subsides, the business must continue to attract a loyal and recurring customer base, in addition to the one-off tourists and large groups as well. While all businesses have their tried-and-true marketing methods that work, we wanted to offer up some that may appear obvious, but they truly work. And when done effectively in conjunction with a robust marketing and sales strategy, they’ll keep your brewery or winery full of customers for a long time to come.

Tastings and tours are a “must” for any brewery, winery, cidery, or distillery. However, even if you diligently open your brewery daily for happy hour, there’s much more you can do to raise product awareness. In order to broadcast your brand’s name, it helps to bridge the gap between physical and digital. While locals and tourists might stop in for some beer, wine, or cider, incorporating digital marketing into your outreach campaign will multiply your success. These digital marketing strategies help breweries and wineries attract interest and show off their new craft beer and wine releases, as well as just consistently get people through the door.

 

Blog Posts

Creating a new beer, wine, or cider is still big news. Your fans (and prospects) want to hear about it! However, people also want to know what they’re getting into before purchasing beer from a brewery. For many, that means doing some research beforehand. Introducing a new beer, wine, or cider through blogging is a fun, creative, and informal way to get word out of your newest product. Along with sharing information about the new release and the story behind your winery or brewery online, you can link to your social media pages as well. With these additional steps, you’ll effectively reach your social media followers and those who have signed up for email alerts or announcements (not to mention jack up your SEO rankings). This makes it easier for followers to share the news about your brewery or distillery on their social networks too.

 

Email Campaigns

While it often takes a back seat to social media, email marketing is still a significant part of a successful marketing strategy. Surprisingly, many breweries, wineries, and cideries use social media exclusively as their digital marketing strategy. Considering that 3.2 billion people use social media worldwide, tapping into a social network is a good start. Yet, email is even more effective in reaching a target brewery or winery audience than Facebook or the others. Studies show that 900 out of 1,000 people see a company’s message via email compared to just 20 out of 1,000 people on Facebook. Ultimately, it’s worth your time and effort to create a message that 90% of users will see. Email also has the power and convenience of automation. With social media, on the other hand, you’ll need to personally post a message every day or at least several times each week (which you should be doing ALSO).

 

Social Media Ads

Even though email campaigns are the fastest way to reach a broad audience, don’t underestimate the power of social media for your brewery or winery. About 67% of the US population uses Facebook, which translates to many potential views. Facebook advertising is simple and easy for breweries and wineries to use, and you can even try A/B testing to see which campaigns and strategies are most effective.

 

From tried-and-true email to web content and social media, there are many creative and effective avenues that breweries, wineries, distilleries, or a cideries, can use to increase brand awareness and spread news of a new wine, cider, or beer. If you’re interested in discussing how you can build upon your existing marketing and sales strategy reach out to us at WIMS Consulting and we’d be happy to help!

navigating networking

Navigating Networking

Recently at the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance’s 2nd Annual YP Leadership Convergence: Navigating the Career Jungle Gym (#YPLeaderCon) I moderated a panel about networking. This break out session was one among many others, along with some incredible keynote speeches and a great day full of, well networking.

The panelists I interviewed were:

Since we received such great feedback from our session, I wanted to share a few of the key points with you to highlight some of the primary takeaways.

Be authentic and a real person. People can spot a fake pretty easily and know when they’re just being sold. Begin a conversation with cultivating a real connection by being transparent.

Get to know people for who they are, not just their job. Yes, it’s common that the first thing people often ask in a networking setting is, “What do you do?” But you’re allowed, and encouraged, to take a different approach.

The elevator pitch: Yes, you should have one, but know when to use it. When to use the elevator pitch often comes much later in a conversation, and typically when it’s prompted by the other person. You should be able to comfortably speak about who you are and what you do naturally of course, but generally you can keep the elevator pitch in your back pocket.

Add value to others and give back. Every interaction doesn’t always lead to a sale or referral right off the bat. Rather, those often take time (roughly 5-7 touch points on average). If you focus on adding value to others first and going out of your way to help them it’s more likely that will be reciprocated later. That’s not a guarantee that it will. But trust us, just try it and see how well it works out for you.

Be strategic about where you spend your time. We all have a limited amount of time in the day. Be thoughtful and which events you plan to attend in order to get the most value for your precious time. Further, when you do commit to attending an event make sure to bring your best self and be present.

Leverage technology, (i.e. your phone, Outlook, LinkedIn, a CRM system, etc.). It’s pretty much impossible to remember every single person you meet, who you’ve made plans with, or where you met them, among the infinite amount of information we consume each day. Create a system and make sure to use it. If it’s in real time the better. Add their contact info into your phone and send the calendar invite right then and there (when appropriate) to maximize efficiency.

Follow Up! This is by far the most important tip yet so many people fail to do it. As they say, “the fortune is in the follow up”. Try to do so in as timely a fashion as possible to ensure you continue cultivating the relationship.

There are plenty of other networking guidelines to adhere to, what are some of yours?

 

For additional context on the YP Leader Con conference’s theme this year the description was: “The career path for a young professional often looks more like a jungle gym than a corporate ladder. During a full day of learning and exploration, you’ll gain insight from a diverse array of speakers with varied career and leadership paths.” It was a dynamic day packed with incredible content. If you live in, or near Charlotte make sure to sign up for next year’s conference!

reconnecting with your network

Reconnecting With Your Network

4 min. read (too long? Scroll down to the bottom for the bullet points)

You did it. You went dark.  You ghosted. Pulled a professional Irish Goodbye.  You haven’t spoken or been in touch with the majority of your network for some time.  Could be a couple months, or even over a year.  I know I’m guilty of it.  You change careers/jobs, move to a different part of town or new city, or experience a major life-changing event like a new relationship, marriage, or have your first child.  For one reason or another, you lost touch and some people got left behind.

 

This is completely normal.  Things happen, and priorities change.  But what do you do when you want to reconnect to some, or all, of your old network?  Well realizing you want to reconnect is the first step.  We went around asking others who have been in that same predicament, what they did that worked for them.  Below we compiled a list of the steps they took to warm up their own networks and get “reintroduced to the wild”.

 

  1. Just do it.

Sometimes we over think things, and talk ourselves out of doing something that will ultimately benefit us.  Maybe you only reach out to a couple people you still stay in contact with, or you limit the amount of outreach when trying to get back in touch with your network.  Ultimately, those who want to stay in touch will respond to your efforts, and those who don’t will ignore the effort.  Save yourself the time and worry and reach out to everyone.

 

  1. Get Active

Now this can be vague, but its actually really simple.  Get active in the same circles as your old contacts.  Whether its posting more on social media, attending the same networking groups, or professional organizations.  Getting active will put you back in front of those people. We need to stay in front of those we want to keep us top of mind.

 

  1. Own up to it (but not too much)

It’s been a while since you’ve spoken.  Odds are, you won’t be able to just pick up the conversation where you last left it like nothing happened.  A brief acknowledgement of the passing of time will add some context to the rest of the email.  However, be careful not to sound overly apologetic.  Include any pertinent information, like a change in career, major move, or family addition.  Avoid anything that sounds overly apologetic like “I’m so sorry I haven’t been around.” Or “I hope you’ll reconnect with me again.”

 

  1. Be Transparent about your motives

This one should be rather straightforward; you want to reconnect.  Make sure this is in the message somewhere.  Whether you haven’t spoken in a while, you changed careers or positions, or whatever the reason.  If you want to remind them of who you are, it would be smart to include your previous position, place of work, or where you were when you first met.

 

  1. Don’t sell anything or ask for a favor

Clearly there is a reason you want to reconnect with this group of people, but this isn’t the time to ask.  Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said it best,

If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to.

If you haven’t spoken to these individuals in some time, odds are you don’t have the trust built up to ask anything of them.  Use this as an opportunity to give something of value.

 

-Ask them what you can do to help them.

-Congratulate them on a recent accolade.

-Offer some information or research that may be useful to them professionally or personally.

 

Sharing with them something new you’re working on is ok, but stop short of asking them to buy or become a client.  If they’re interested, they’ll ask you for more information.  This is the first step of a marathon, building a relationship doesn’t happen in a sprint.

 

  1. Write like a human/ Make it personal

You’re trying to reconnect, which means putting yourself first and actually connecting.  You may represent a brand or company, but people connect with other people.  Greet them by first name “Hi Christy,” or if you don’t have their first name a simple “Hi!” or “Hi there,” will be ok.  Keep the tone conversational, as if you were talking to a friend.  A rigid tone can be confused for bulk email, and make it seem impersonal.  Lastly, avoid any banners, images or special fonts.  Plain Text works best, as that’s the default look for most of our personal emails.

 

  1. Follow Up!!!

Congratulations!  You did it! You put in all the hard work and reached back out to your network.  When you get responses to your message, thank them.  Gratitude goes a long way to keeping the relationship going.

Now you have to keep it warm.  The fortune is in the follow up! Stay consistent with your outreach and keep in front of them using whatever platform works best for you.  Keep active in whatever in-person groups make the most impact.  If you join a non-profit, make sure its one you have a genuine interest in (we can tell if you’re faking it or using the group for other reasons).

 

General Do’s and Don’ts

 

Do

-it.  Seriously, just put an email together or even just walk into an event.  Do something.

-Be transparent and own up to the lapse.

-Remind them who you are and where you met.

-Give something of value.  Real value. Try to benefit them personally or professionally.

-Keep it friendly and personal.

-Be genuine in your efforts. We can all spot a fake.

-Use plain text.

-Follow Up. Stay Consistent. Show Gratitude.

 

Don’t

-sit on your ass.

-be overly apologetic.

-assume they remember you.

-Sell them something or ask a favor.  I cannot over emphasize this enough.

-give them anything cheap.  People recognize and appreciate value.

-send a bulk mailer with fluff (fancy borders, fonts, images)

-let another year go by before you reach back out again.

 

Hope this helps get you back out there!

 

If you liked this, sign up for the newsletter and keep an eye out for the next posts in this series:

Email etiquette: Anti-Spam and keeping out of Junk folders & Networking: Following up with a new connection.

What is 10X Tom Schaefer Jr.

What is 10X?

If you’re an entrepreneur, a sales professional, work within your city’s start-up ecosystem, or are a follower of one of the dozens of personal/professional growth coaches, chances are you’ve seen or heard of “10X”.  This has become a hot term in the last half-decade, and I wanted to break down my interpretation of what this means, and how it’s meant to be applied to your efforts.  It started as a way to describe the “best” engineers who are 10 times as productive as their “worst” counterparts in the field of software development.  The term has been appropriated, perhaps most famously by Grant Cardone in his book “The 10X Rule”, as an understanding of the levels of effort and thinking required to break out of the average results and truly succeed.

The first component in The 10X Rule (get it here free, just pay shipping) takes a closer look at how we think about success, and how we set goals.  While we’re taught “slow and steady wins the race”, this puts our mindset in a place where average is OK.  However, average is a sliding scale.  If everyone is struggling, your struggles are justified.  We set smaller “realistic” goals, limiting our belief in what is possible.  I believe this way of thinking is rooted in the fear of failure, so we celebrate even the smallest victories.  Failure is necessary for growth.  As we fail, we learn what doesn’t work and improve our efforts for the next attempt.  Welcome failure, set audacious goals that are “10X” what you originally thought possible.  10 new clients a month instead of 1.  Raise $1 million for your start up instead of $100K.  Thinking in these magnitudes, even a “failure” of getting 3 new clients or raising $200K is still better than the original goals.

Now thinking at a higher level than before is great, but making them happen can seem daunting.  This is where the second part kicks in, and understanding the order of magnitude of your actions comes into play.  Break down what it takes to reach your goal.  Does it take 5 meetings to get that 1 client?  Schedule 50.  Does it take 10 calls to get 5 meetings?  Make 100 calls.  Don’t have 100 people to call?  Start building your network by sharing what you do with others and ask them if they know anyone that fits your ideal client profile (ICP).  Start somewhere and create the activity to get to the next step.

“But Tom, I’m a solopreneur and I’m already working 60 hour weeks, I can’t possibly work 600 hours a week, it’s impossible.”  or “Those numbers aren’t realistic, in my industry a 20% growth is considered a huge margin.”  Excuses are a justification of our fears.  We stay in a comfort zone to avoid failure.  Well a solopreneur can leverage tools like CRM to manage a sales and marketing strategy, making scalability much more attainable. A strong digital marketing campaign can grow an audience 100 times what was previously done with more traditional methods at a fraction of the price (and often at no cost at all).  The fear of failure is stopping more people from succeeding than the actual failures ever will.  Stop thinking small and start doing, because nothing ever happens overnight, and every great journey begins with a single step.

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