Sonoma County: News and Notes

This message is a simple Holiday Greeting and some thoughts along all the paths that I post about. Whatever you celebrate at this time of year I wish well for you and yours. This is a time of year for family and friends. That is important to all of us.

That leads me to the important part of this message. As it says at the bottom of every one of my posts, I am a Business Coach. Business is often viewed as a cold thing. A Battle. Technical. But every Business is really about people. Those people are everywhere. Owners. Customers. Vendors. Employees. Managers.

People are the most important thing inside and outside any Business. The growth and future of any Business is the value of its people. It is important to invest in them to make your Business grow. But that is just the start of it. People are just human. They have strengths and weaknesses. We need to understand the human part of the business. I have seen many leaders treat people as a homogeneous group of resources when it is clear that they are not.

Over the Holidays, you will see your family and friends. You know each of them and the differences that they have. The same is true for the people in and around their Business. This is the problem in Business. Each system that you set up has to be fair and have equality. But the systems have to have flexibility to deal with individual differences.

I have had many HR people give me “Review Writing” Tools. These tools chose words to put into reviews so that I didn’t have to do so myself. I ignored all these tools when I wrote reviews. I wrote every review that I gave myself. I entered every word on my own. I wanted to be sure that each person got the best information about their performance. I considered it one of the most important parts of my job as a leader. If I don’t give people feedback on a regular basis, then how can I expect them to get better. It also gave me an opportunity to talk to people about what they want in the future. If I can be honest with them about what I see, then they will be honest with me about what they want. It helped me know who I could provide a good path for. Also, who I could not and were likely to leave in the future.

So while you are spending time with your friends and family take time to consider the people in your Business. And have a great Holiday. Next Post will be on 1/5.
Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Marketing Consultant, Behavioral Assessments, Business Planning

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Sonoma County: News and Notes

We are coming to the end of the year and as I said last week it is time to take stock and time to look forward. The best way to look forward is to set up controls that allow you to be a success. The first step in this is to have an Annual Operating Plan for your Business. Unlike a larger Business Plan, an Annual Plan provides very specific ideas of what will make your business work over the next 12 months. If you are interested in such a plan and don’t know where to start, contact me at jsackman@focalpointcoaching.com. A properly executed plan will more than pay for itself! If you want to understand the service better, then click HERE.

We also take this time to spend quality time with our friends and family. One of the biggest issues in Small Business is the time that it takes away from them in many cases. One example of this is when we come to this time of year. Some business owners are busy this – especially in Retail. For many businesses, this time of year is quite slow. Yet, owners can’t take the time off. They let their employees go but they stay. If this is a problem in a business that you know, then Business Coaching can be a path forward to them getting a balance in their work and life.

The good news in Sonoma County is that we finally have rain! Now, I am not sure it was necessary to get all the rain we needed in 1 day but we can’t choose how it will come. This is good news for the local economy from the Vineyards to the Wineries as well as the Breweries, Distilleries and Food Processors. These make up the largest chunks of our local economy so it will serve us all well.  One other piece of good news lately has been the restart of significant housing construction.  With the growth Rohnert Park over the near future, this is great news for us all as well.

Also over the next year or so, we should finally be done with some transportation improvements.  The 101 expansion should finally be done as well as the Airport upgrade. On top of that, the SMART train should begin service.

So over the next week, stay dry and have some good family time. Don’t over eat and stay safe. Have a great Holiday!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Marketing Consultant, Behavioral Assessments, Business Planning

Net Neutrality Friday

Last time I posted on Net Neutrality, I ended with the notion that we need to set a policy that encourages investment. I want to start there today and go forward with some thoughts about that.

Many of you have not worked at a Service Provider. Because of that, I want to provide a bit more background around investment of capital. The thing that you may not realize is that an ISP could spend much more money than it does if it executed on all the projects that it could. The challenge is that given staff sizes, balance sheets and other issues only a specific number of projects are funded every year. These are done for either regulatory or Return On Investment (ROI) reasons.

This last creates a large set of problems that are difficult to resolve. For example, one of the reasons that many places see slow deployment of broadband services in rural areas is that they have a lower ROI than more urban ones. Without subsidies, it is unclear that much can be done to change that. So when budgets are reviewed many Rural Broadband projects just don’t make the list of things to be done.

What regulatory changes like Net Neutrality can do is impact business cases. If you were an ISP, would you invest your money if the rules were about to change? That is why AT&T came out recently and said that it would not add more Gigabit Cities until it had clarity on the rules.

The thing that I come back to on this is that maybe it is time to make Broadband a Universal Service. That is different than Net Neutrality. Universal Service means that a Carrier of Last Resort MUST provide you with the Universal Service regardless of the costs involved Today, the only Universal Service is POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). If fixed Broadband was a Universal Service then we would have 100% availability. To do this, we might have to have the same kind of High Cost Loop Support we had for POTS.

That might solve the Access Problem. Then we could get to the next problem where we need to understand the notion of how services will be treated by ISPs…aka Net Neutrality.

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Marketing Consultant, Behavioral Assessments, Business Planning

Sonoma County: News and Notes

We are coming to the end of the year and as I said last week it is time to take stock and time to look forward. The best way to look forward is to set up controls that allow you to be a success. The first step in this is to have an Annual Operating Plan for your Business. Unlike a larger Business Plan, an Annual Plan provides very specific ideas of what will make your business work over the next 12 months. If you are interested in such a plan and don’t know where to start, contact me at jsackman@focalpointcoaching.com. A properly executed plan will more than pay for itself! If you want to understand the service better, then click HERE!

I recently spoke to Gabriella Ambrosi the CEO of Sequoia Senior Solutions. They provide in-home caregivers targeting the elderly. Highlights of this discussion are below.

Jim Sackman: Hi Gabriella, it seems like there is a lot of change in your business. What is going on?
Gabriella Ambrosi: Yes, there are large number of regulatory changes that are going to be implemented over the next year. In particular, there are new training requirements for Caregivers.
JS: How does this impact your business?
GA: We already do extensive training, so there is not a large impact in terms of time. We want to make sure that we comply with the legal requirements.
JS: That’s good to know. Tell me a bit about your caregivers.
GA: What we find is that our caregivers get great satisfaction from working with older folks. They get to help them stay in their homes and enjoy their lives.
JS: What does going to an agency like yourselves provide?
GA: Beyond making sure that we have caregivers that meet all the legal requirements, we spend time matching the needs of the client with the capabilities of the caregiver. Because we have a significant staff size we can cover illnesses and vacations so that we always have our clients with the care that they need. That can span from somebody who visits a couple of hours a few days a week to clients that need 24/7 support.
JS: What kinds of things do your caregivers do?
GA: Just about anything that does not require a nurse by law. We make sure that we have a program that supports the needs of the client from just being there to exercise to cooking healthy meals. Whatever the client needs us to do.
JS: Gabriella, thanks for your time. Any last words?
GA: Yes, we are here to support you and your family. We have a passion and a joy about working with older people. We love what we do and look forward to serving.

If you have older loved ones who need support, call Sequoia Senior Solutions. If you are interested in having your business spotlighted in my Blog – just contact me!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Marketing Consultant, Behavioral Assessments, Business Planning

Sonoma County: News and Notes – Special Edition

As readers, you know one of the things that I do is blog about the local tech companies quarterly earnings. Given the announcement from Cyan yesterday, I think I need to give folks perspective on this complex proposed transaction. You can find a copy of the announcement HERE. Since I think these kind of transactions are hard to understand, I will write about it.

This is an offering that dramatically lowered the common stock price and I will explain why. But first, I think I need to put some information around the transaction itself. As a baseline, the company is trying to sell $50M in debt. These are the “Notes” listed in the press release. These Notes will have an interest rate attached to them. This interest rate is unstated but I expect these to have an interest rate above 5% based on current interest rates in the market. Secondarily, there is a “Warrant” attached to the purchase of the Note. The Warrant is the right to buy a stock at a fixed price much like a Stock Option. The reason that the stock took a hit is that it would be expected to have a Shareholder vote to increase the number of outstanding shares. The reason is that if you convert the Warrant, the company will want to issue stock (from its point of view free) instead of paying cash. Since making new Stock does not change the value of the company, the value of the Stock has to change to compensate.

The value to existing investors is that there will be an extra $50M for the company to spend. The goal of that money needs to be to get the company to cash flow positive. Assuming that happens, then this funding will create a lifeline for the firm. The value to purchasers of the Notes is to be determined. Given that the company is losing money, there is no assurance that the interest on the debt can be paid. On the other hand, if the company succeeds the holders of Notes will have an option to buy Cyan Stock at a relatively cheap price (relative to the market at the time). Debt does not actually change the value of a company directly. You get money and owe money back. It is a market cap neutral transaction. The Stock Price change is all about the Warrants.

I won’t comment on the existing investors expressing interest in $15M of the $50M. There is no commitment so it is hard to say what will actually happen. The one thing I can say is that if the company does not succeed it will be owned by the Note holders. In that kind of event, the Senior Debt (“The notes will be secured by a first-priority lien on substantially all of the Company’s assets, subject to permitted liens and certain excluded assets.”) control what happens not the Shareholders.

Most of you are not going to be able to buy into the Notes. If you can, you certainly have more dedicated advisors than me. So, I want to be clear for the existing Shareholders what this means. This announcement lowers the value of your stock in both the short and long term. Given that you likely bought it at a much higher level than you did now, you need to ask yourself what you should do. My suggestion is to remove the emotion and look at things analytically. You can’t change the past, so don’t bother trying. So, try to look forward and play out some scenarios. Set sell prices above and below the current value. If the Stock hits those numbers sell. If it doesn’t wait until it does. This should be true for every stock in your portfolio.

Have a great day and I was glad to see so many of you at Santa Rosa Connections last night!
Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Marketing Consultant, Behavioral Assessments, Business Planning

Sonoma County: News and Notes

We are coming to the end of the year and as I said last week it is time to take stock and time to look forward. The best way to look forward is to set up controls that allow you to be a success. The first step in this is to have an Annual Operating Plan for your Business. Unlike a larger Business Plan, an Annual Plan provides very specific ideas of what will make your business work over the next 12 months. If you are interested in such a plan and don’t know where to start, contact me at jsackman@focalpointcoaching.com. A properly executed plan will more than pay for itself! If you want to understand the service better, then click HERE!

There is a lot of networking activity as we close in as organizations have events. I will be at Santa Rosa Connections tonight. The events are a great value and stop by and see me at my table! I would like to see everyone.

I want to give you a couple of thoughts about networking events – and at FocalPoint we call them net- WORK – ing events. For many people, they go to see folks and enjoy themselves. I go to work. I want to meet people. So let me tell you what I do. First, I have a plan for how many people that I want to meet. Believe it or not, just having a goal like that is helpful to make you move along to the next person. Second, I ask about them. I don’t focus on me. If you focus on other people, you can learn about them and find out if they are a potential prospect or referral partner. Remember even if they are not a propsect, they might know 1 or 10. Be open to everyone. Finally, have a follow up plan for folks. I follow up with a LinkedIn invite, an offer to meet for coffee and a request to add them to my newsletter list.

How many times have you been to an event and met 10 people that never contacted you? I ask people regularly, “Why did you not contact me? Am I not a prospect?” Start with following up. The second thing is for those that will connect help them refer you business. Don’t expect it, but you never know who they know. Just be open and honest with who is a great client.

I look forward to seeing many of you at these Holiday Events!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Change Your Business – Change Your Life!
Business Coaching, Sales Training, Marketing Consultant, Behavioral Assessments, Business Planning