Fall 2008

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President’s Message

The REAL Candidate for Change

A quick Google search on “Candidate for Change” will bring up just about every candidate that has ever run for any office for any party, including both of our 2008 Presidential candidates. “Change” is a buzzword that almost anyone can attach themselves to.

Not wanting to miss out on the “Change” bandwagon, I’ve decided to hold my own election and run as the Candidate for Change for Metro Detroit Small Business Owners. Now you won’t see me running any attack ads – partly because I’m not sure who I would attack. No, instead you will see me spreading the message of what we do — not what someone else didn’t do — to create positive change. I’m talking about financial changes that will make small businesses consistently profitable.

Many small businesses are stuck in old ways of thinking. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is a red flag that your business may need a “Candidate for Change”. I know that some owners have become numb to the idea of positive change from financial people after hearing lots of promises with little results. And many owners are not aware of resources available today that weren’t available even a few years ago, via outsourcing. This includes what we at Michigan CFO Associates do, but also other areas – I.T., H.R., even accounts payable. Ultimately, better results come through positive change.

As your “Candidate for Change”, the bad news is that under my plan you will pay more taxes. . . . because you will make more money. I’ve provided some information on my “candidacy” in the article below entitled “Don’t Call Me Bob”. Another big part of my plan involves setting and achieving targets, which is discussed in the 2nd article “Get Your 2009 Budget Process Started Now”. And you can read a more comprehensive version of my plan in the new book “30 Day Total Business Makeover”, in which I’ve been featured as a co-author (see “What’s Happening” for a special offer on the book.)

But the change I’m most looking forward to right now will come just after the polls close, when thankfully, this election season will come to an end and we can stop watching millions of dollars getting flushed away in an endless barrage of useless ads. That’s a change we can all embrace.

Happy Voting Day,

Todd Rammler, CMA, MSA

P.S.– If you happen to know a young, attractive “unknown” who would make a good running mate. . . give me a call.

Don’t Call Me Bob

Over the past 4 months or so, I’ve been a little bit surprised by one question that seems to be coming up when I get into deeper conversations with people. And the question is this:

“So what exactly is it that you do, anyway?”

Similarly, when tax season comes around, I always get this: “So this must be your busy season, eh?”

Sometimes I just scratch my head and wonder. . .

Now I can understand if I’m talking with someone I just met, someone who I don’t know very well, a new prospective client, or anyone else who hasn’t yet heard my schpeel at least a few times. But these questions are coming from people who’ve known me for a while. Including my own family.

Most people who’ve met me or know me might refer to me as “the CFO guy”. What that means, they’re probably not real sure.

My uncle amuses himself by referring to me as “Robert”, the fancier version of Bob from Accountemps. And, my own PARENTS asked if we could do their taxes (we don’t do taxes).

So it occurred to me: perhaps the message about what we do is not very clear. Or, perhaps some people don’t really care. (I know you’re thinking “You’re getting warmer”). In any case, I’m going to provide a concise description here. . . although I may need to start with my own family circle and work outward from there.

So let’s start with what we DON’T do:

1. We don’t do taxes. Not corporate, not personal, not MBT. No tax planning. We rely on reputable CPAs to do this.
2. We don’t do bookkeeping.
3. We aren’t a competitor or a fancier version of that Bob from Accountemps guy.

With the majority of our clients:

1. The client’s bookkeeper does day-to-day accounting (A/R, A/P, Payroll)
2. The outside CPA does tax planning & returns
3. Michigan CFO assists the business owners with tools and strategies to make more money.

In short, we help businesses make more money by doing what a CFO at a large company would do – on an outsourced basis. These are things that all businesses should be doing, but most smaller businesses aren’t doing. This includes things like:

* Margin analysis by product/customer/industry
* Pricing strategies
* Breakeven analysis
* Financial projections
* Assisting with banking relationships & securing financing
* Growth/expansion planning
* Cost cutting strategies
* Cash management

I often tell business owners that we “fill the gap between their bookkeeper and CPA”. And there most certainly is a gap.

Take a look at the diagram below, which hopefully spells it out a little clearer. Then call me when you need your taxes done – but call early if it’s in “the busy season”.

Todd Rammler is a CMA not a CPA and he and his staff don’t do taxes. Their busy season is all year ’round.

For a clean & legible version of this diagram, visit www.michiganCFO.com/downloads/diagram.pdf.

Get Your 2009 Budget Process Started Now

Last year at this time, I outlined the case for budgeting in the newsletter. Because this is the height of budget season, I’ve included a link to that article below, which is titled “See the Future. . . and See it Now!”

If you’re relatively new to the newsletter you should check it out, and even if you’ve read it previously it’s a good refresher.

Also, last year at this time I introduced the budgeting tool XLprojectionPRO which I spent 2 years developing. This is a great system for a user with solid accounting and Excel knowledge. It is available on the web at www.XLprojectionPRO.com.

Tech Tips: Practical Tools You Can Use Everyday

If you’re like me, technology creates an emotional love/hate relationship. My tech knowledge teeters between just enough to solve a problem and just enough to really screw something up.

Occasionally I come across some very useful tools that actually do make technology a little easier – usually from someone who witnesses my struggle and feels pity.

Last year after a particularly frustrating evening with my home PC, I unplugged it, carried it out to our deck, and hurled it off the deck and into the middle of the back yard. I let it sit there for a week or so to make sure that it was further damaged by either rain, lawn sprinklers, or. . . dog urine.

I believe I taught that machine a lesson.

I share that story with you to let you know that I wouldn’t include anything below that might drive you to similar behavior. So here we go:

Lookout. This is a search utility for MS Outlook users. I installed it at the suggestion of a friend thinking I would rarely use it. A few days later, I could not find an old email, so I put it to the test. It is 100 times better (unscientific study) than Microsoft’s search feature in Outlook. Not only is it much, much faster, it actually locates the files you’re looking for. I now use it regularly, and would have to say it’s a terrific tool. It’s also very simple to install. To download it click:

Dim Dim. If you conduct web meetings or webinars occasionally, this is a good alternative to WebEx or GotoMeeting. It’s free if your meeting/webinar is for 20 or fewer participants. www.dimdim.com.

MS Office 2007 to 2003 file converter. Most of our clients are still using Office 2003, but a handful use 2007. So we occasionaly get documents emailed in 07 format that we can’t open. This utility allows you to convert an 07 file to 03 format. It was forwarded to me by a client that was tired of me saying “Can you re-send it in 2003 format?” Download link is: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=941B3470-3AE9-4AEE-8F43-C6BB74CD1466&displaylang=

If you come across any “must have” utilities you’d like to share, please email me and we’ll include them in future issues.

What’s Happening? Exciting News at Michigan CFO Associates!

Upcoming Book: I have been featured as a co-author for a new book entitled “30 Day Total Business Makeover” in which I will be highlighting the strategies we use every day to assist clients. In addition to the financial side, there will be contributing experts from other fields offering their strategies for the total business makeover.

The book is expected to be released in late December and will retail for $20. If you would like to pre-order a copy, I will make it available for only $10, but you must email me with your request before 11-15-2008.

TV Appearance: In mid-September I taped a half hour interview with Tara Kachaturoff, host of Michigan Entrepreneur Television. The program is designed to support and build entrepreneurship within the local community as well as throughout the State of Michigan.

The interview is scheduled to air:

Tuesday, November 11th at 11:00 a.m. and
Thursday November 13th at 6:30 p.m.

Michigan Entrepreneur Television can be seen in Bloomfield Hills and Bloomfield Township on Channel 15 and Birmingham, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, and Franklin on Channel 18.

For more information visit www.michiganentrepreneurtv.com.

Radio Interview: We are currently in the process of scheduling a radio interview on WWJ Newsradio 950. More info to follow on this.

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