2 Things That Kills Entrepreneurship #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship

 

Teaching entrepreneurship at UNCC has given me a unique view of success and failure. Years ago, a mentor told me that you learn more from failure than you do from success. I really didn’t know what he was talking about at the time, but I do now.

Failure

For some reason (probably the pain), failure tends to stick with me more. In the pursuit of better teaching, I have added a module to my class on why entrepreneurs fail. I don’t really like to teach on it, but the students seem to take to the information, and I have found two things that seem to be consistent in a lack of business startup success.

Thing 1

Entrepreneurs are a very funny breed. You need to have a strong stomach, thick skin and a laser focus. All of this equals what the rest of the world calls stubbornness. When we first started AvidXchange in 2000, it was five head strong – I do it my way – men. You can imagine the arguments we had. It’s difficult to change an entrepreneur’s mind when they get stuck on some idea and they are convinced that their idea is going to be the next big thing. (However) That is the first failure, the inability to change. When an entrepreneur is so wedded to an idea, refusing to change it, or not creative enough to, it’s only a matter of time before the business begins to suffer. I am sure there are exceptions to this, but in the innovative tech world (that I live in) change is key to success. It is, however, possible that you can change too much.  There has to be some balancing act between changing and staying focused. It is important to mention that cycles have a tendency to operate in 18 month time periods. I do not remember where I heard this, but it’s been years since I was first introduced to this idea and I have used it successfully to maintain balance between change and too much change.

Thing 2

The next thing that will inhibit the entrepreneur is selling. All successful entrepreneurs are great salespeople. The problem is that so many people have such a negative view of selling that they either won’t give it a chance (because it’s a learned skill), or are unable to recognize good selling. When selling is done by a pro, the person being sold to will have no idea they are being sold to.  They will believe the salesperson is being honest, and displaying a lot of integrity. This failure is the obvious… if the entrepreneur can’t, or (this is what happens most of the time) won’t sell, then the company will not make any money – a quick road to failure. Consider too, as an entrepreneur, selling to customers is important but selling to advisors, bankers, investors, board members, employees and family (especially family) is just as important.

Think of This

Not being able or willing to sell, and unwillingness to change put a person in the position of having all their eggs on the sides of the road (not even in a basket).  Both selling and being able to evaluate opportunities are skills that can be learned, taught and improved.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

2 Things That Kills Entrepreneurship #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship

 

Now that I have experience and teaching entrepreneurship at UNCC has given me a unique view of success and failure. I had a mentor tell me years ago that you can learn more from failure than you can from success. I really didn’t know what he was talking about at the time but I sure do now.

Failure

For some reason (probably the pain) failure tends to stick with me more. I don’t like thinking about my failures but as I fail and succeed the more negative is a better teacher.  In the pursuit of better teaching, I have added a module to my class on why entrepreneurs fail. I don’t really like to teach on it but the students seem to really take to the information, and I have found two things that seem to be consistent to lack of business startup success.

Thing 1

Entrepreneurs are a very funny breed. You need to have a strong stomach, thick skin and a lazer focus. All of that equates to what the rest of the world calls stubbornness. If you are an entrepreneur or you know one you know that you can barely talk them out of anything. When we first started AvidXchange in 2000 it was five heard strong – wanting to do it my way – men. You can imagine the arguments we had. It’s difficult to change an entrepreneur’s mind when they get stuck on some idea and they are convinced that their idea is going to be the next big thing. (However) That is the first failure, which is the inability to change. When an entrepreneur is so wedded to their idea that they won’t change or aren’t creative enough to change it’s only a matter of time before the business begins to suffer. I am sure there are exceptions to this, but in the innovative tech world (that I live in) change is key to success. It is, however, interesting that you can change too much, so there has to be a balancing act between changing and staying focused. It is important to mention that cycles have a tendency to operate in 18 month groups. I can’t remember where I got this from, but it’s been years since I was introduced to this idea and I have used it successfully to keep the balance between change and changing too much.

Thing 2

The next thing that will kill entrepreneurs is selling. All successful entrepreneurs are great salespeople. The problem is that so many people have such a negative view of selling that they either won’t give it a chance (because it’s a learned skill) or are unable to recognize good selling. When good selling in done well by a pro the person being sold to will have no idea and they will think the person is being honest or displaying a lot of integrity. With this failure there is the obvious… if the entrepreneur can’t or (this is what happens most of the time) won’t sell then the company won’t make any money which is a quick road to failure. Consider this too, that as an entrepreneur selling to customers is important but selling to advisors, bankers, investors, board members, employees and family (especially family) is just as important.

Think of This

Not being able or unwilling to sell and not changing put a person in a position to where all of their eggs are on the sides of the road (not even in a basket) and both selling and being able to evaluate opportunity are skills that can learned and taught and improved.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

If AP Automation Was a Tattoo!

A friend of mine gave me this idea – and without thinking I am running with it… I hope you enjoy!

In January of 2007, The Pew Research Center reported that 36% of 18-35 year olds have at least one tattoo. (Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1636218)  Also, 28% of the US population has a college degree (Source: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_47/b3960108.htm).  So, what does that mean?  Well… nothing really – I just get a good laugh when I quote those stats.

I thought it would be very entertaining to compare an AP Automation project to a tattoo… and, if you have done an AP Automation project – find out which one is yours and bring it up in a meeting next time.

There are 5 basic categories of tattoos:

Abstraction Tattoos and AP Automation
Mostly done in shades of black and classic gray, such tattoos commonly include tribal and Celtic style tattoos, Old English
lettering, or Chinese symbols. If your AP Automation was this tattoo you would be like most AP departments, having a front end capture with some type of indexing in addition to workflow and reporting that is integrated into your accounting or ERP system. Often  people will comment on how nice your Automation is and ask where you got it, but not too much more than that.

Naturalistic Tattoos and AP Automation
These tattoos involve minute detailing, shading and perspective, and are done in such a way that imparts as much realism as possible. As with the above, these AP Automations would include front end capture, workflow, reporting and integration.  However, there would be a few additional aspects that seem small on the surface, but make a big difference.  This would involve less indexing and data entry and more OCR or electronic technology. Once up and running, people will comment on the intricacy of the operation and may become somewhat intimidated by the scope and size of the project – this type of Automation takes a lot of work too…

Dedication Tattoos and AP Automation
Dedication tattoos involved the use of the sailor-based designs, like the heart and name banner, the anchor with a ship name, and the insignia of a military regiment. If these tattoos were AP Automation they would come off the back of a long time Director of AP who has left the company (or retired).  He or she loved the paper… and the new staff’s first move was to automate immediately after the doors shut from the going away party.

Simplification Tattoos and AP Automation
Simplification tattoos do not have limiting boundaries in terms of the design.  Almost any and every shape and size can be included in this type, as long as it is stylized by the tattoo maker. If this tattoo was AP Automation it would be like having a cousin that claims to know SharePoint like the back of his/her hand and creates a custom solution for you.  These are great when they work… but be aware that if something changes (style, systems, needs) you are stuck with an “artist’s touch”.

Complex Tattoos and AP Automation
Complex tattoos involve designs that are much more intricate than the other styles.  They consist of an amalgamation of various tattoos, making them much more impressive than other types of designs.  This AP Automation project/build would have started with a huge RFP that includes a lot of people in your company and a lot of service providers. Complexity in the software world is both a blessing and a curse.  The difference between the two has to do with the competence of the person “running the show”.  I have seem both sides of this and, just like a complex tattoo, if the creator knows what he/she is doing – there is nothing more beautiful!  If the creator doesn’t … well… you’d keep your shirt on as much as possible.

In the 8 Pitfalls I wrote a lot about finding out who you are… doing business soul-searching and goal setting.  As the book is getting more and more readers I get more feedback on it usefulness.  A comment I get more times than not is, “Thank you for helping me do my home work.” Out of the 8 Pitfalls, the first three (which encompass 50% of the entire book) are about looking within your company to set appropriate goals…

I guess another way of saying it is if you want a large tattoo on your face… don’t expect to get a job in Finance!

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

There Are 2 Things to Know When Calculating Accounts Payable Cost #APAutomation

One of the first steps in knowing the impact of Accounts Payable Automation is calculating what your Accounts Payable process cost.

Start Here

What is your current cost per invoice is one of the first questions I ask someone when starting or wanting to improve their AP Automation journey.

2 Things

1. Hard Dollar – This is cost that is associated to tasks that, when automated are eliminated 100%. Look at the chart below. The steps in the Accounts Payable process that are slashed are previously people, time and effort that the organization doesn’t have to do… software will take over the task… creepy huh?

2014_01_03_11_19_06_20

2. Soft Dollar. Well if hard dollar are costs associated to those process steps that are completely eliminated then soft dollar are those costs that impacted by Accounts Payable Automation, but not completely eliminated. (Again) Using the graphic above you can see the coding and approving of invoices are example of soft dollar cost. When automated, the ideas is automation can help (greatly if done right) coding and approving, but the tasks are still part of the process. They are business decisions that still have to be made, so they are not eliminated 100%.

Be Warned

I was thinking to write a title to this section more dramatic than “be warned”… but maturity has gotten the best of me (dang), so on with the warning.

If you base decisions (change, ROI, Cost Per Invoice…) on soft dollar cost you have put yourself in a position to not achieve your goal. Soft dollar is a moving target that cannot be accurately pinned down. I guess I can write that soft dollar is like shifting sand… and you know what happens when you build a house on that stuff.

More?

Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with soft dollar savings, it’s just not good when setting and achieving numbers based goals. Hard dollar on the other hand is a much better benchmark because the tasks are there and when automated they are gone. If the task of entering invoices into the accounting system cost your organization $4.50 per invoice, then you can expect to have a cost reduction of $4.50 per invoice. Now… here is the best news. At the end of the process you find that you only saved $3 and not the $4.50… you have more work to do. That’s probably the biggest benefit of using hard dollar cost.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that startedAvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information.

Best Week Ever! #APAutomation #Sales #SaaS #Fintech

I have been trying to write more encouraging things to salespeople. Especially those of you that have the joy of selling software as a service. You are unable to rely on complex installs and connection to bring value. Therefore we only have our wit and charm when it comes to expressing our offerings.

Best Week?

Do you want to have the best week ever? I know I do. I have three techniques that if you follow you will have the best week. The great news if you can start to string one good week after another and before you know it (in about four weeks) you will have a good month… then a good year. I highly recommend you use these techniques this week.

Technique Number One – Be a Good Finder

A good finder is someone who finds the good in everyone and everything. A good finder is labeled as a hopeless romantic or someone how is not in touch with reality. I don’t know where our society has gone wrong when the people who are most positive are looked upon as crazy. The thing that a good finder will do for you is keep you out of despair and you will notice that when you perfect being a good finder in everyone and everything people will become more attracted to you. In a deal where the offerings are close your attitude will be the one thing that tips it in your favor, but get this… even if the offerings aren’t close and you are on the lower end, being a good finder will still tip it in your favor.

Technique Number Two – Stay Away From The Killers

I am not writing about murders, although hanging out with murders will mess up your week and destroy your pipeline. The killers I am writing about are the ones that will stops us from the greatest week ever. There are three and they are so sinister that we don’t know we are doing them and they are the quickest path to depression. Stay away from:

  1. Gossip – The difficult thing about gossip is when we start talking with a friend we get a little bit of an initial buzz. There is something trilling about tearing someone down while building you up. After the initial buzz the more you gossip the more you will drag yourself into a depressed stated. No one ever achieved anything by being depressed.
  2. Comparison – This is the true stealer of joy. The problem with comparison is you always compare the worst in you to the best in the other person. Just like gossip the result is a depressed state.
  3. Self-Pity – One of my mentors told me over 20 years ago that the problem with pity parties is very few people show up and they never bring presents. Once you have put yourself on the pity train, it is extremely difficult to get off. You will sink to a point where you will not desire to go on and question what you are doing is worthy and worthwhile. No one ever achieved anything where they didn’t have a passionate purpose.

All these killers will take you off focus and zap any energy you have to achieve, so stay away from the killers, and be very overt about not engaging with the people or events that cause these killers.

Technique Number Three – Relationships Matter

As a salesperson we are in the relationship business. I write a lot about automation and software taking over tasks that people used to do. However, if you want to have the best week ever, make sure your relationship are at their best. I have done a lot of thinking about people who are always happy versus people who are always mad or unhappy. I have come to the conclusion that the people who are happiest are the ones with the best quality relationships. Do this, if you want the best week, make sure you priorities your relationship. I don’t know why people tip toe around the jerk at the office and go home and blast their spouse for the most insignificant things. As a salesperson our home base has to be a safe place. As a young salesperson I thought that if my business was going well my family would go well. I am so very thankful that I learned early that if my family life goes well my business life will follow. Make home base a safe place. Then improve the quality of your relationships out to your kids, parents, siblings, co-workers and even your clients. Especially your clients. If the quality of your relationships are high with your clients and prospective clients you will never want for a sale again because they will become so common place it will be a matter of who and what closes next instead of hanging false hopes on a weak pipe.

Use these three techniques and I guarantee you will have the best week of your entire life.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

Best Week Ever! #APAutomation #Sales #SaaS

I have been trying to write more encouraging things to salespeople. Especially those of you that have the joy of selling software as a service. You are unable to rely on complex installs and connection to bring value. Therefore we only have our wit and charm when it comes to expressing our offerings.

Best Week?

Do you want to have the best week ever? I know I do. I have three techniques that if you follow you will have the best week. The great news if you can start to string one good week after another and before you know it (in about four weeks) you will have a good month… then a good year. I highly recommend you use these techniques this week.

Technique Number One – Be a Good Finder

A good finder is someone who finds the good in everyone and everything. A good finder is labeled as a hopeless romantic or someone how is not in touch with reality. I don’t know where our society has gone wrong when the people who are most positive are looked upon as crazy. The thing that a good finder will do for you is keep you out of despair and you will notice that when you perfect being a good finder in everyone and everything people will become more attracted to you. In a deal where the offerings are close your attitude will be the one thing that tips it in your favor, but get this… even if the offerings aren’t close and you are on the lower end, being a good finder will still tip it in your favor.

Technique Number Two – Stay Away From The Killers

I am not writing about murders, although hanging out with murders will mess up your week and destroy your pipeline. The killers I am writing about are the ones that will stops us from the greatest week ever. There are three and they are so sinister that we don’t know we are doing them and they are the quickest path to depression. Stay away from:

  1. Gossip – The difficult thing about gossip is when we start talking with a friend we get a little bit of an initial buzz. There is something trilling about tearing someone down while building you up. After the initial buzz the more you gossip the more you will drag yourself into a depressed stated. No one ever achieved anything by being depressed.
  2. Comparison – This is the true stealer of joy. The problem with comparison is you always compare the worst in you to the best in the other person. Just like gossip the result is a depressed state.
  3. Self-Pity – One of my mentors told me over 20 years ago that the problem with pity parties is very few people show up and they never bring presents. Once you have put yourself on the pity train, it is extremely difficult to get off. You will sink to a point where you will not desire to go on and question what you are doing is worthy and worthwhile. No one ever achieved anything where they didn’t have a passionate purpose.

All these killers will take you off focus and zap any energy you have to achieve, so stay away from the killers, and be very overt about not engaging with the people or events that cause these killers.

Technique Number Three – Relationships Matter

As a salesperson we are in the relationship business. I write a lot about automation and software taking over tasks that people used to do. However, if you want to have the best week ever, make sure your relationship are at their best. I have done a lot of thinking about people who are always happy versus people who are always mad or unhappy. I have come to the conclusion that the people who are happiest are the ones with the best quality relationships. Do this, if you want the best week, make sure you priorities your relationship. I don’t know why people tip toe around the jerk at the office and go home and blast their spouse for the most insignificant things. As a salesperson our home base has to be a safe place. As a young salesperson I thought that if my business was going well my family would go well. I am so very thankful that I learned early that if my family life goes well my business life will follow. Make home base a safe place. Then improve the quality of your relationships out to your kids, parents, siblings, co-workers and even your clients. Especially your clients. If the quality of your relationships are high with your clients and prospective clients you will never want for a sale again because they will become so common place it will be a matter of who and what closes next instead of hanging false hopes on a weak pipe.

Use these three techniques and I guarantee you will have the best week of your entire life.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

How Sexy Can Accounts Payable Be?

Maybe I have writer’s block…. maybe I am looking for the level of attention that any middle child deserves… maybe I have completely lost it.  Whatever the case, I am attempting to write about Accounts Payable being Sexy!

This all started innocently enough. I have written books, did some shameless self-promotion, put up a website and then someone suggested I should write a blog.  I thought, “That’s great!  I will use all my professional life experiences and all the knowledge from the books to make the ideas I have live and breathe!”  Then I got involved with Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter (this is where it take a turn – not good, not bad just a turn).  I started noticing that the stranger the topic – the more hits and comments I got. That’s when I decided to write about AP being sexy!

So, like any self-proclaimed nerd that loves a good Spreadsheet, I went to the Dictionary to define the word “Sexy” and to see if I could find a parallel between it and AP (I can’t believe I did it either).  Here is what I found:

sex·y

adjective, sex·i·er, sex·i·est.

1. concerned predominantly or excessively with sex; risqué: a sexy novel.
2. sexually interesting or exciting; radiating sexuality: the sexiest professor on campus.
3. excitingly appealing; glamorous: a sexy new car.
Well, I don’t think the first definition fits… Accounts Payable wouldn’t be like a “sexy novel”.  Definition number 2 doesn’t work either. I don’t believe AP is sexually interesting, however it can be exciting when there is that one invoice for the renewal of the website domain that mysteriously slips through the cracks, someone for IT races (in fear of losing their job) down to AP, drops to their knees and with arms to the heavens….. Oh, nevermind!  That’s more annoying than exciting.
Definition 3 is the only thing left… “excitingly appealing”…. huh… “excitingly appealing”… “glamorous”… I don’t believe I can connect the dots.
Let’s face facts!  Accounts Payable is a fundamental practice that needs to consistently operate quickly, efficiently and effectively.  If AP is doing their job correctly, or even going above and beyond, the outcome is that no one in the company knows we even exist. One of my long term AP friends like to say that, “AP only get noticed when something goes wrong.”
So, fellow Accounts Payable professionals… let’s raise our glasses and toast the unpaid invoice in the drawer of that manager that is two-weeks away from being fired.  Let’s salute that purchase order that has been unattached from an invoice for more than six years now.  And, on this 4th of July as we celebrate the United States of America’s independence from England, (oh – to my British readers… and I know there are a lot of you – I hope there are no hard feelings and please keep reading) let’s help people pay closer attention to the fact that someone had to approve the expense for the cleaning crew after the Declaration of Independence was signed….  because… it is sexy to be unseen and critical!

Happy 4th!  AP pros, you deserve a break!

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

Can Tony Soprano Run An Accounting Department?

I know… I have written some ridiculous articles in my time, and this one must really looks like it’s out of left field. Well, hang with me. Last year I wrote an eBook called “Could Steve Jobs Run An Accounting Department?” As far as 2014 went the Jobs book was the most requested and second highest rated talk that I did at conferences. It was a bit of a leap for me because I didn’t want to come across as disrespectful to accounting professional or making fun or our profession (we get enough of that). I wanted to take what made Jobs great and apply it to the world or accounting and finance. It seemed to work – thankfully. The feedback I got was it was a fresh look at management and innovation that people hadn’t thought about in accounting department.

Now What?

I started thinking about the Steve Jobs thing, and there were people/characters out there that would be an interesting idea on running an accounting department. That’s when I ran across Tony Soprano. I am somewhat late to the Soprano bandwagon. For those of you that aren’t familiar, Tony Soprano was the lead character in the HBO series that ended in 2007 of the trials and tribulations of a modern mafia family. I have just finished the 5th season of the show through the HBO app and am very excited about knowing how it all ends. I don’t know if it’s because I am a huge nerd (my kids would say a very loud yes to this) but while I watch the show, although fictional, I keep evaluating Tony the head of the mob family and his management skills.

What Won’t Work?

If you only know the show by its reputation you will know that one thing that won’t work in an accounting department is violence. That’s a big part of Tony’s management style and there is no place for it in the work world. I could picture someone not turning in their expense report on time without the proper receipts and next thing you know they would be sleeping with the fishes. Come to think of it though, that would solve all T&E problems. (Seriously) Violence is no laughing matter, and the show for the most part plays it down as it just being part of the job. Tony as a leader and manager of the family uses the threat of violence, that is anyone crosses him inside or outside of the family then they will more than likely lose their life. There is no place for that in an accounting department.

What Would Work?

So if you take the threat of violence out of Tony Soprano’s management style then what are you left with? This is something that strikes me, in every episode that would make Tony an excellent accounting manager and that’s communication. His language is bad and a lot of time if you make him mad he would blow a gasket, but the one consistent thing he does as a character every episode is handle conflict with excellent communication. Now Tony doesn’t just handle any kind of conflict he handles life threatening conflict. Here are a few things that he does to resolve conflict

  1. He deals with the situation quickly – as soon as he hears about it
  2. He works face to face. Could you image Tony having a problem with someone and sending an email to express his displeasure
  3. He uses a code and hierarchy of values to resolve conflicts. He happened to have gotten this code from his father and family that dates back centuries.
  4. Once the issue is settled he has a confirmation process, usually a hug, kiss (both those are optional in an accounting department), and before they separate he says, “are we good?”
  5. Lastly, and he does this so well, if the other party says, “Yea Tone, we’re good.” It’s over. He doesn’t harbor or carry anything away from the resolution.

So…

When I wrote the Steve Jobs book I answer the question if he could run an accounting department, and the answer was no. Jobs would want to change accounting and create his own process… maybe even develop a new currency. So, I guess I need to answer the question if Tony Soprano could run an accounting department. The answer is, if he gave up the violence and used his people skills, I believe he could.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

Could Steve Jobs Run An #Accounting Department?

Well… this is the big reveal… the moment we have all been waiting for. As you may know I have written a few articles about Steve Jobs running an accounting department. I guess I have taken a little break from my normal Accounts Payable Automation writing to help accounting and finance professionals sharpen the saw on their leadership and management skills.

The Set Up

I have done more research on Jobs than I have ever done research on any one single thing outside of AP Automation. I wish I would have put this much effort into my school work when I was younger (I think as we get older we write stuff like that). I searched through countless videos, articles, read books written by colleagues and finally read his biography written by Walter Isaacson. Isaacson’s book was by far the most revealing and interesting. Jobs told him in the beginning that he wasn’t going to have the final say or edit on any of the material, and you can tell. If you want to know more about Jobs the Isaacson book is an excellent read, and I would highly recommend it.

Recap:

 In the last two weeks I have written about Jobs and Innovation, Development and Management. As I wrote in my first article about Steve Jobs running an accounting department, he had two careers at Apple. Both different and both highly successful. The first career at Apple really saw his development side take center stage as he pushed the company to make a personal computer that was easy to use and useful. The second career was more innovative. Jobs was tremendously influential in many industries and as an innovator he was able to change animated movies, phones, personal computer and the music industry. Those are not small feats. However, both careers at Apple did have one consistent theme and that was managing people. In contrast to his outside persona Jobs was an excellent motivator and really pushed the people who worked for him to achieve what employees would say was the impossible.

The Answer

Can Steve Jobs run an accounting department? The answer… No! Jobs was too much of a free spirit and out of the box thinker. There is plenty of room for that type of creativity in accounting and finance, but Jobs would have taken it too far. He would have wanted to develop an entirely new set of practices and procedures to follow, scraping the old debits and credits for something different. An example of this he was in the hospital he didn’t like the machine that took his pulse and made recommendations to the staff on changing it. He also didn’t like the oxygen mask and asked the nurse to bring him five different examples so he could choose the best design. Even though Jobs would have been unable to run an accounting department we still can learn from his innovation, development and how he managed people.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

There Are 2 Things to Know When Calculating Accounts Payable Cost #APAutomation

One of the first steps in knowing the impact of Accounts Payable Automation is calculating what your Accounts Payable process cost.

Start Here

What is your current cost per invoice is one of the first questions I ask someone when starting or wanting to improve their AP Automation journey.

2 Things

1. Hard Dollar – This is cost that is associated to tasks that, when automated are eliminated 100%. Look at the chart below. The steps in the Accounts Payable process that are slashed are previously people, time and effort that the organization doesn’t have to do… software will take over the task… creepy huh?

2014_01_03_11_19_06_20

2. Soft Dollar. Well if hard dollar are costs associated to those process steps that are completely eliminated then soft dollar are those costs that impacted by Accounts Payable Automation, but not completely eliminated. (Again) Using the graphic above you can see the coding and approving of invoices are example of soft dollar cost. When automated, the ideas is automation can help (greatly if done right) coding and approving, but the tasks are still part of the process. They are business decisions that still have to be made, so they are not eliminated 100%.

Be Warned

I was thinking to write a title to this section more dramatic than “be warned”… but maturity has gotten the best of me (dang), so on with the warning.

If you base decisions (change, ROI, Cost Per Invoice…) on soft dollar cost you have put yourself in a position to not achieve your goal. Soft dollar is a moving target that cannot be accurately pinned down. I guess I can write that soft dollar is like shifting sand… and you know what happens when you build a house on that stuff.

More?

Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with soft dollar savings, it’s just not good when setting and achieving numbers based goals. Hard dollar on the other hand is a much better benchmark because the tasks are there and when automated they are gone. If the task of entering invoices into the accounting system cost your organization $4.50 per invoice, then you can expect to have a cost reduction of $4.50 per invoice. Now… here is the best news. At the end of the process you find that you only saved $3 and not the $4.50… you have more work to do. That’s probably the biggest benefit of using hard dollar cost.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy