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CEO Advisor® Newsletter
December 2012
Planning, Forecasting and Goal Setting for 2013
December should be your planning month to prepare for 2013 and maximize your opportunity for success.  Planning, forecasting and goal setting are critical to any company, large or small.  

CEO Advisor, Inc. works with CEOs and business owners of small and mid-size companies on strategy, growth, business planning, sales, sales management, marketing, funding, mergers and acquisitions and the key to a successful year is strategy and planning.  Conversely, if you are not committing time and focus on planning, forecasting and goal setting for the upcoming year, you are leaving a lot of money on the table.

Planning doesn't mean just updating a brief business plan and going back to your daily routine.  Business planning is a critical aspect of your business that enables you to rethink, adjust, plan, research, strategize, prioritize, focus and allocate resources to your largest opportunities, while minimizing wasted time, energy and resources.

Planning takes discipline, expertise, the ability to strategize, update and mobilize around a focused effort.  Execution is the follow-on implementation of your 2013 Plan in a well thought out, concentrated effort.  If you are not executing on your Plan, you are wasting time and money, missing opportunities, flushing valuable resources and causing irreparable harm to your company, many times on a permanent basis.

Creating a monthly financial forecast of Sales, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS or costs directly related to providing your product or service), Gross Profit (Sales minus COGS), Gross Profit Margin (Gross Profit divided by Sales), Expenses (Overhead), Net Profit and Net Profit Margin (Net Profit divided by Sales) is paramount to effectively running your business.  

Additionally, a financial forecast enables you to compare your actual financial results to your forecast, proactively make needed adjustments to your business, eliminate wasted time and resources, increase gross margins and maximize your profits.

Without a monthly forecast, you are flying blind throughout the year with no metrics or financial goals.  This, again, will have you leaving a lot of money on the table that will never be recovered. Forecasting is a straight forward process and a key part of planning for the new year that can be one of the biggest drivers of success and profits.

Goal Setting
Goal setting should entail all aspects of your business including, a) Company goals, b) Management goals, c) Employee goals, d) Financial goals, e) Sales goals, f) Sales per Employee goals, g) Gross Profit and Gross Profit Margin goals, h) Net Profit and Net Profit goals, i) Optimizing Financial Ratios and others measureable goals to grow your business to the next level.  

Without setting measurable goals, you and your employees may spend the majority of 2013 going day to day in a constant cycle of reactive tasks instead of proactively focusing on and accomplishing your goals, executing on your Plan, and maximizing sales and profits. 

When I meet with CEOs of small and mid-size businesses throughout the year (and I meet with approximately 200 of them annually), they typically cannot answer the simple question, "What are your goals for this year?"  They throw out short answers such as, "Grow the business", or "Sales", but cannot go beyond this and answer the question distinctly with their four to eight primary goals to drive their businesses forward.  

This is due to a lack of planning, forecasting and goal setting and is a major deterrent to success and profits.  CEO Advisor, Inc. provides expertise and experience to quickly and effectively assist you in planning, forecasting and goal setting for 2013.  For a free initial consultation, contact Mark Hartsell, MBA, CEO at 949-759-8676 or email

10 Ways to Cut Costs and Increase Profits

1. Budget & Track All Marketing
Create an annual Marketing Plan, Schedule and Budget and implement it. Monitor and track all marketing activities, stay on budget and re-evaluate your Plan quarterly and cut costs where you don't see a ROI.


2. Scale Back PPC & Get Social 

Online advertising is trackable, but can be expensive with minimal results. Viral and social marketing, coupled with the balance of your Marketing Plan can generate a huge ROI. Review and evaluate your PPC campaign at least quarterly.

3. Healthcare Costs
Re-evaluate your healthcare costs and review alternative health plans. Rethink your share of healthcare costs vs. your employees' share.

4. Downsize or Find Cheaper Office Space
Rents are way down and landlords are hungry. Storage costs are much less in a giant warehouse than they are in your office. Move files and storage offsite so you can fit in a smaller office space. Consider having employees tele-commute to save space for you and gas dollars for them. 

5. Consider VOIP
Switch to VOIP for your phone system. Get rid of expensive phone service base costs, costs per long-distance phone call, and system maintenance and switch to a VOIP system. The upfront costs are minimal, and the system can pay for itself in 9 months. There can be voice delays with VOIP so make sure it is right for your company.

6. Interns
No cost or low cost interns can be extremely valuable. Interns are hungry to work, anxious to perform for an opportunity for a full-time position and can bring a needed Internet-savvy skill set.

7. Make Better Decisions
How many decisions do you and your employees make each day? Each one represents an opportunity to be unproductive and/or ineffective depending on how easily and how well you make those decisions. Eliminate the unnecessary decisions and focus on the necessary, major decisions.

8. Bottom Line Productivity
Cutting cost in business without cutting capabilities and performance is achieved by optimizing each employee's time. Is every employee spending the majority of his or her day on revenue generating work that equates to sales for the company? My clients keep a time log to track actual time by projects and other hours and then we analyze how much time is spent on non-revenue producing activities. We replace those activities with revenue generating activities. 

9. Sharpen The Pencil
Negotiate. In tough economic times, vendors are often willing to work with long-term, loyal customers. If you can pay early, ask for a discount. If you can't pay on time, ask for an extension to stretch out cash flow. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by asking for price breaks and better terms.

10. Just Say No 
You have a budget and a business to run. Show some leadership and business responsibility to a longer-term goal and say NO to expenses or capital equipment purchases that are not budgeted or core to your Plan.

CEO Advisor can help your company cut costs and increase profits by bringing in a fresh pair of eyes to evaluate the situation. Contact Mark Hartsell, MBA, CEO of CEO Advisor today at (949) 759-8676, by email at or visit


"I owned a small but growing company and realized I was in need of an experienced business consultant to help organize our existing structure which would enable us to seek outside funding. Mark was encouraging and demanding, which is just what we needed. He brought a level of professionalism to our company that eventually allowed us to sell to private equity." 

Consumer Products Company


"Mark Hartsell and CEO Advisor, Inc. provide a unique advisory service for CEOs. He not only tackles high level strategic issues to assist CEOs navigate through challenging times, but Mark also gets very involved in actually addressing important issues head-on by performing the work to achieve tangible results.

Whether it is growing a business to the next level, turning a distressed company around or preparing a company for an exit, Mark's firm, CEO Advisor, Inc, provides a broad range of services and Mark is there for the CEO every step of the way."



Haynes & Boone, LLP

Words of Wisdom

"A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether."

Roy H. Williams

"Yesterday does not equal tomorrow. Forget the past and move towards your goals."

Tony Robbins
Motivational Speaker

"Yesterday does not equal tomorrow. Forget the past and move towards your goals."
Tony Robbins
Motivational Speaker
"Yesterday does not equal tomorrow. Forget the past and move towards your goals."
Tony Robbins
Motivational Speaker

Prime Minister of the U.K.