A Small Business’s “Mini C-Suite”
Most entrepreneurs and small businesses have their sites set on two specific areas: Their firm’s expertise and how to get clients or customers. Unfortunately, there’s a huge gap in the middle that gets forgotten or ignored – the operational infrastructure that keeps the firm running smoothly and allows it to successfully scale. The worst possible scenario for a small firm is to build their company on what is known as a “house of cards”. One gust of wind and everything comes falling down. That gust could be a regulatory issue with the Department of Labor, the IRS, OSHA, the USDA, the SEC, CFTC, NFA, FINRA, or any other agency to which they could be accountable. It could be a disgruntled customer because of slow or poor service. Or it could just be the overwhelming nature of growing too quickly – or not quickly enough – without having the right controls and contingencies in place. Most small firms don’t realize that, even though they’re a small business with only one or two or five people, they still have legal responsibilities, most of which they may never even have heard of.
That’s where Alternatives TLC comes in. We add value to a firm by helping them understand what they don’t know that they need to know. We do it through a process called GoalMining. It’s a painless and enightening process. We simply interview the key personnel of a firm and, department by department (even if it’s only a one person shop) we look at they way they’ve organized their Mini C-Suite and addressed each area of it (if they have…):
- Their operations, including their professional and vendor relationships – how are they organizing this information?
- Their human resources – do they have W2s or 1099s and are they in compliance?
- Their legal documents, if they have NDAs, disclaimers on their emails, copyright notices
- Their accounting – is it on Excel or in a program like QuickBooks or Quicken? Do they have an accountant?
- Their technology – what it is (PC, Mac, both), their virus and malware software, their online presence, social media sites, passwords, their security practices, including with personal identifiable information (PII and even HIPAA)
- And finally, their sales & marketing and marketing materials…
We poke and prod until we find a soft spot; and then we drill. Our goal is to determine the infrastructure composition of the firm and what gaps are present. We weave compliance and risk management through each department. This interview process generally takes 2-3 hours for a one to two person firm; a few hours more for each additional person. We then go away and create a written, prioritized checklist of the gaps found and write suggestions as to ways they could be fixed. The resulting document, anywhere from 8-25 pages, is called the ATLC Small Business Roadmap.
We forward the document to the client and, after they’ve had a chance to review it, we then sit down with the client and go over what we’ve found and the various ways they could correct the gaps and answer any questions they have. If the client wants, we refer them to appropriate service firms, based on their needs and budgets. We do not take any referral fees from anyone; we remain agnostic so that we can remain objective.
Additional services we can provide:
- We can help remediate certain operational, HR and technology gaps to create and maintain a cost-efficient, tailored and scalable infrastructure, stepping the client through as much (or as little) of the process as they desire. We don’t give legal or accounting advice and, depending on the regulatory agencies to which the business is accountable, might recommend a specialized compliance firm.
- Product Availability Searches and qualifications (Requests for Information, Requests for Proposals)
- We help with Total Cost of Ownership Analyses (3-5 year Cost-Benefit Analyses)
- Solution Decisions (including build/buy/outsource and any combination)
- Solution Implementation
- Procedural Manual Documentation
- Project Management
Our mission is to create informed small business people that have all of their important information consolidated so they can make informed decisions and efficiently and effectively grow and operate their business.