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By: John D. Laslavic, LPBC

Business owners, CEOs and senior executives face a myriad of challenges in today’s business environment. Many of the challenges are related to understanding the ever-evolving business, economic, technology and political environments - not to mention the specific technical business changes presented in the professional field you and your team members embrace.

New and exciting products and services are continually being introduced to the market. These new business tools are available today and can be incorporated to assist your businesses to improve overall performance and profitability. However, the challenge we face is to find the time to invest in learning, adapting systems, and incorporating the new technology, tools and services while adjusting our current processes, maintaining our business efforts and dealing with a hundred other things. We must also keep the company mission in mind and lead our teams to success. This is no small task.

The trap we face is that it takes time, money and focus to step out and properly delegate our responsibilities and hold our associates accountable for results we have agreed upon. Stepping out of these day-to-day activities takes a tremendous amount of energy and effort. We get stuck in the business activity trap prison without a focused plan, resources and support. We do the same operational things that are important, day after day, subjecting our businesses to short term success but future harm. While our businesses earn revenue today, we sacrifice tomorrow. If you, as a leader, are not planning, looking at new innovations and adapting to the anticipated future environment, then who is? The answer is no one.

We know we must be open to change to be relevant in the long-run. We should be developing, introducing improvements, testing new tools and systems to help our associates but also to free ourselves from day-to-day technical and recurring business functions. Our goal must be to create, innovate and deploy better systems that produce more sales revenue and reduce our costs to gain a higher overall profitability. We can continually strengthen and grow our businesses through this process and applying best practices.

ThistleSea coaches have a fourteen-year track record of helping business owners, CEOs and senior executives free themselves from the business activity trap prison. This allows them to benefit from a more profitable business. In addition, ThistleSea clients understand the future, position their companies correctly and create a better life for themselves and their families with more time to pursue the things they value the most.

Give us a call for a complimentary discussion to see if a ThistleSea business coach might help you escape your business activity trap prison by starting the discovery process to build your action plan. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today.

“Because your business should lead to Abundance.”

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If you don't know what you're looking for, how will you know if you've found it?

The goal of an interview is to determine whether a given candidate matches the position available. If our hiring process doesn’t provide a clear answer to this fundamental question, we will make inappropriate hires and our business will suffer.
 
To fill a position, we need clarity – a lot of it. We’re looking for 4 things to be clear any time we’re ready to hire someone:

1. Is the position clear? That is, has the organization carefully evaluated its needs, evaluated the functions required and designed a position that fits? And does the candidate understand the position that’s available?

2. Is the vision clear for what the new hire will bring?  (HINT: If the position is clear, this vision is also usually clear.) At ThistleSea, we view this through the lens of the “3Cs” – competence, commitment, and chemistry. When we’ve got a vision for the new hire, we should be able to say things like:

Not ideal on the "commitment" scale.

  • Competence: The new hire needs to: have advanced typing skills and knowledge of MS Office, have supervisory experience of at least 3 people in the past, and be exceptionally good at written and phone communication.

  • Commitment: The new hire needs to: be self-motivated and self-directed, handle stress well and calmly, and have an attitude that views errors as experience. Is the candidate willing to do what it takes to perform at a high level?

  • Chemistry: The new hire needs to: be collaborative and supportive of the team, and be comfortable with goals and goal-setting for her/himself and others. Will the candidate fit well in the current company culture?

3. Is the vision clear for what this candidate can bring? When a real person is sitting in front of us, we need to know if they demonstrate the 3Cs we’re seeking! The interview questions we ask should elicit responses that reveal the competencies, level of commitment and chemistry that would make the candidate a good cultural fit.

4. Does our vision match what the candidate can bring? If they match, this candidate might be a good hire. If they don’t match, we need to be honest about whether our organization can accommodate the mismatches. Following the interview, we should be able to explain clearly the matches and mismatches. If we can’t do this, we may need to change our interview questions.


Too often, we ask supervisors or HR staff members with only cursory knowledge of a position to interview candidates. It’s a bad idea.
 
You’ll only recognize the right person when you know the 3Cs needed to be successful in that role – and you see that the candidate has got them.

If you're looking to upgrade your talent, we can help.

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Minneapolis, MN – June 29, 2018

Wiley welcomes ThistleSea Business Development of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania to the Authorized Partner network of talented trainers, consultants, facilitators, and coaches who bring Everything DiSC® and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ to organizations worldwide. Wendy O. Lydon and Terri Hammond have successfully completed JumpStart, the official Wiley business-building and training session that features the tools, theory, and research behind Everything DiSC and The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team. As an Authorized Partner, ThistleSea Business Development will use this advanced knowledge to help clients improve workplace relationships and achieve organizational effectiveness with these proven workplace solutions.

“As an industry leading developer of workplace assessments, Wiley recognizes your dedication to building better workplaces using our proven Everything DiSC and Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team solutions,” said Barry Davis, Vice President and General Manager of Wiley’s Workplace Learning Solutions Group. “I continue to be amazed by the superior results our Authorized Partners achieve with their clients, by applying what they have learned through the JumpStart process.”  

With the growing demand for learning assessments, Wiley continues to attract independent business owners who are committed to delivering the latest tools in workplace performance development.  “Our high-quality tools coupled with ThistleSea’s expertise in training and development will serve organizations well.  The need for skilled leaders in this industry has been leveraged with our training programs.  We look forward to supporting ThistleSea’s business growth,” said Davis.

About Wiley’s Workplace Learning Solutions Group
Wiley's professional development business creates products and services that help people become more effective in the workplace and achieve career success. We bring the ideas and best practices of thought leaders to life—serving workplace communities worldwide.

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By Wendy O. Lydon, LPBC

At ThistleSea Business Development, we believe that interpersonal and communication skills are some of the most fundamental building blocks to support the relationships that grow businesses and build strong communities. Understanding human behavior has always been an important part of our coaching relationships. We're very excited to offer our clients new and more in-depth tools for human behavior training and understanding personal and business relationships.

ThistleSea Business Development now has the expanded ability to assist you, your team and your organization to gain a deeper and broader understanding of human behavior and relations. Using a research-validated learning model, each solution provides in-depth information including tips, strategies, and action plans to help you become more effective in the workplace.

We have become an authorized partner of Everything DISC®. Our ThistleSea coaches have been thoroughly trained and certified on these tools, and these new solutions provide rich, versatile learning programs that offer personal insights for individuals at every level of your organization, using a consistent language of DiSC.

Below is a brief overview of the new solutions we can provide to you and your employees:

Everything DiSC Workplace® can be used with everyone in an organization, regardless of title or role, to improve the quality of the workplace. This tool focuses on gaining an understanding of both yours and other’s DISC style and building more effective relationships.

Note: This behavior assessment serves as a replacement for the reports and training we have worked with so many of you and your teams with.

Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict explores workplace conflict. Clearly one of the most stressful, awkward and inevitable experiences in the workplace is inter-personal conflict. Now we have a tool and training focused on workplace conflict using the language of DISC. With all the attention placed on conflict resolution, it's to change our view of conflict and resolve to use it in a positive way in the workplace.

Note: We can certainly work with you and your teams in understanding conflict. Please stay tuned for future workshops and trainings focused just on resolving conflict – which is a perfect education for everyone, regardless of position and area of business or career path.

Everything DiSC® Work of Leaders helps you discover your DiSC leadership style and learn a simple three-step process to help you approach the fundamental work of leaders: crafting a Vision, building Alignment and championing Execution. Work of Leaders connects to real-world demands, generating powerful conversations that provide a clear path of action.

Everything DiSC® Management provides you with an understanding of how to manage more effectively by learning about your own management preferences and priorities, better motivate your staff and yourself and get more comfortable with delegation. We're excited that this tool also helps you gain insight into how to develop your employees – something that is so important to employee engagement and understanding how others might view you and your style.

Everything DiSC® Sales expands communication with your customers and reveals how to match your style to theirs. By helping people discover their unique strengths and limitations, this tool can convince even experienced salespeople that they can become more effective.

Everything DiSC 363® for Leaders combines the best of 360 feedback with the simplicity and power of DiSC, plus three strategies for improving leadership effectiveness. The result is a 360 experience that’s more productive and satisfying.

With these deeper and more powerful tools, ThistleSea can now provide you with a broader understanding of DISC and human behavior.

We have always valued the work of Patrick Lencioni and use many of his books as coaching tools. His book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, has always been one of the most important readings as we work through team building and understanding.

We are also excited to share with you that ThistleSea coaches have been trained and certified to work with organizations and teams through a new program and curriculum, The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™. The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ Powered by Everything DiSC® helps teams understand how to apply The Five Behaviors™ model of Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, and Results to their work culture. By using Everything DiSC®, a tool that helps build effective team communication and relationships, this program allows participants to learn about their own DiSC style and discover how each style brings value to the team.

We look forward to continuing our work with you, and your teams and colleagues to learn, develop and build personal and professional effectiveness through better communication and relations.

Please reach out to us if you would like to learn more how we can use these tools to help support your continued success. And watch for information for future workshops and trainings!

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Many books, seminars and speeches have been written about business. Many encourage business owners to jump through hoops but miss the two fundamental reasons for starting and running a business. The fundamental reasons are:

  • Earn a profit as a result of all the actions your business takes.
  • Be open to exit if the offer and timing is right.

All business owners should continually work to make a profit and prepare their companies for the ultimate success in an exit strategy. According to statistics, only 3 percent of businesses exist for 3 generations. Even size and reputation are no guarantee for business survival as many of the Fortune 500 vanish from the list each decade. With that backdrop, preparation, focus and always being open to an exit are critically important to maximize your investment in time, energy and money.

I have been asked many times by business owners, CPAs, attorneys, and consultants if I can help them or their clients achieve higher valuations. Obviously, if there is an engaged ownership / executive team and a market for the company’s products and services, the answer is yes. But where do you start?

While owners have many reasons for starting a business, they soon realize it is not easy and takes a lot of effort, money, smarts and consistent action. They learn, hopefully sooner than later, the only reason that a business exists is to earn money that results in a profit. Everything else may be important but is secondary.  Only delusional souls think the business' primary reason to exist is to keep families together, preserve a legacy, develop people, serve a community, etc. These are all good reasons but are secondary. If your business makes a profit first, you can “make the happy business cake,” and benefit those you serve it to. But without profit, you have no prosperity, just broken dreams, wasted energy and disheartened souls.

Typically, if there is some time before the actual exit events and sales closing, there are a number of things that can be done to evaluate, consider and take actions that will increase profits and the company’s valuation.

The first recommendation is to conduct an overall assessment of the business. It should include all areas of the business and technical operations. This assessment should help you discover the strengths and weaknesses to build an action plan for improving those areas found deficient and targeted for specific improvement. This is an area where an outside objective observer may be required to help you eliminate your company’s blind spots. They may also help you build your action plan and steps required for the improved value and results.

Here are some areas typically needing improvement:

Leadership

Is your vision for the company’s future clear and have you communicated this vision to all your stakeholders?

Most companies we meet need some work with the leadership team on refining the future vision, so they can clearly communicate what success will look like. This may include, for example, working on the strategic plan, communication strategy, upgrading organizational talent and preparing high potential emerging leaders, etc.

Marketing

Is the organization able to continually generate new qualified leads for its products and services?

How your customer service and reputation management integrate with your sales and customer service processes should be an important concern and typically are areas where great gains in value can be made.

Human Resources

Is your human resources function mitigating the risks for the business?

Typically, there is an opportunity to improve your agreements and employee understanding of the work required. If all functions are smoothly accomplished and properly executed, typically, it enhances the overall company’s profitability. In addition, buyers or those involved in operating the company after the transition are typically looking for a turn-key operation with well documented organization processes and procedures. They place a higher value during their due diligence process on a well-organized company human resources program.

Financial

Three areas to look in the finance area when preparing to exit include the following:

  • A clean set of books that are understandable. This is especially important to place the proper value on the company prior to the sale, during buyer due diligence and at closing.
  • A financial dashboard that demonstrates the financial Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track your progress in improving company performance and overall value.
  • A budget and cash-flow plan to demonstrate how much cash the business can generate over time and how much cash the business will need.
Sales

Is your sales organization able to convert qualified leads to customers?

Do you have a sales model that works? Can your sales model be replicated and taught to others in order to repeat the results and company sales growth?

Technical

While many start businesses because of their founder’s expertise in some technical, product or service area they are knowledgeable and excel in, that alone doesn’t make the business sustainable and grow. Building a technical operating manual to include your policies, procedures and training programs will enhance the company’s value. In addition, you will need to demonstrate the company’s expertise, along with many other business competencies to entice an interested buyer to complete the purchase of your company.

Expense Control

Do you have a purchasing system in place that helps you to increase your gross margin and control overhead?
 

Are there areas where you can eliminate or reduce without hurting your quality and performance?

In summary, your ongoing and number one goal should be focusing on and achieving the highest profit and the highest valuation with your exit strategy in mind. This is the best way to run a company that will deliver for your family, employees, customers and the community.

If you are interested in learning more about how ACT Capital Advisors can assist you in improving your profits, valuation and selling your company, contact me at (724) 935-1930 or email me at jlaslavic(at)actcapitaladvisors.com.

Learn more about the author at http://actcapitaladvisors.com/pittsburgh-office/

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Pennsylvania Business Coach to Lead Firm’s Area M&A Practice

April 24, 2017           

ACT Capital Advisors announced today that John D. Laslavic has joined the firm as a Managing Director. Mr. Laslavic will focus on helping business owners in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia achieve an optimal outcome when they decide to sell their company. The new Pittsburgh location opened this month.

“Our plan is to have highly skilled M&A advisors in every major market of the United States. John will play an important role in this strategy.”
— Bob Hild, ACT Capital Advisors Chairman and Managing Director

Laslavic is a well-known business coach throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. For the past 30 years he has dedicated his professional career to mentoring and leading business owners to success. Mr. Laslavic is the President of ThistleSea Business Development, LLC. The firm is a coaching, strategy development, training and business services company.

“I am excited to build ACT’s M&A practice in this area,” said Laslavic. “I often help my clients position themselves for an exit. Now, as part of ACT, I can guide them through the entire M&A process. ACT has an excellent team of financial professionals that will support me from their headquarters in Seattle. I can now offer full-service investment banking to my clients.”

Bob Hild, ACT Capital Advisors Chairman and Managing Director said, “We are delighted to have John Laslavic on our team. He’s already a trusted coach to thousands of business owners. Our plan is to have highly skilled M&A advisors in every major market of the United States. John will play an important role in this strategy. We are confident he will do an excellent job of helping business owners achieve the best possible outcomes when they decide to sell.” 

John Laslavic can be reached at jlaslavic(at)actcapitaladvisors.com.

ACT Capital Advisors, LLC is a leading Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) and Corporate Finance firm that represents lower-middle-market companies ($5 million to $50 million in annual revenues) across a variety of sectors and industries, including industrial manufacturing, information technology, construction, healthcare, aerospace, consumer staple/discretionary, oil and energy, as well as outsourced services. The firm provides strategic financial advice to closely held, family-owned, as well as private equity sponsored organizations and corporate shareholders that wish to sell their company, raise growth capital, or secure commercial financing. Leveraging ACT’s deep industry-wide knowledge and strategic auction process, clients appreciate ACT’s approach, pairing the professional expertise of a national investment banking firm with the senior level attention and entrepreneurial creativity of a smaller enterprise.

If you’d like more information or to schedule an interview, please call Terri Hammond at 724-935-1930 or email terri.hammond(at)thistlesea.com.

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