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True Story: Set Clear Goals and State Them in Public

"I didn't realize how much advantage you can get from setting clear goals and stating them outright, in public." So says Jorge Granier, CEO of Latin Everywhere with an example to prove it.

He explains that barely six months ago, radio host, author and small business expert Barry Moltz interviewed him for a Canon MAXIFY promotion and asked him to highlight his next big goal for the next year. Jorge responded with two goals, not one: doubling the audience from 50 million to 100 million views per month; and going from less than 5 million to 10 million subscribers.

And, as it turns out, he's close to exceeding those annual goals in just six months. Latin Everywhere has –

  • already hit 80 million views per month; and
  • already passed 8 million subscribers.

I interviewed Granier last week to follow up on that earlier promotion.

"The interaction with Canon made things much easier," he said. "We've grown from six people then, in one office, to become a bi-coastal company, with offices in Los Angeles and Miami, with headquarters in Miami." That growth includes not just the world's largest Spanish-language streaming video site, pongalo.com; but also crossovers from Spanish to English, such as the huge success of Jane the Virgin; and one of the strongest commercial YouTube channels (also named pongalo on YouTube.

In a series of major growth moves, Latin Everywhere started with one of the first big commercially successful YouTube channels carrying mostly telenovelas. As it grew, focusing on streaming content, it also absorbed a library of Mexican original content for the channel, and purchased Inmoo, a web streaming platform, for an undisclosed amount.

Latin Everywhere is a great example of intersecting streams of business. Its position of dominance is based on focused streaming of Spanish content, in multiple markets including the U.S., Mexico, and Latin America. That generates revenue streams including subscriptions and advertising, sparked by careful attention to user data and preferences, to allow tailoring markets for advertisers. And it also offers Spanish content through amazon.com, Hulu, Netflix, and iTunes. And from there it's just a step to curating content and picking opportunities to create new English content from original Spanish material. Granier is the producer of Jane the Virgin, which recently won a Peabody award and it's star, Gina Rodriguez, a Golden Globe award, and is a remake of the successful Spanish-language "Juana la Virgen." It's the first of several, with English language versions of "Mi Gorda Bella" and "Isla Presidencial" coming soon. And Latin America often already has rights negotiated, which eases some of the work of moving into the new market.

Asked about Canon, Granier said his involvement with the previous promotion "made a big difference. And they gave us a really nice printer (MAXIFY model number MB5320), which really helped. As we became a bi-coastal company, with offices in Los Angeles and Miami, the printer's scanning and networking capabilities made it easy to work closely from two different locations. We could react immediately to documents, read them in real time, sign, scan, and send, all fast."

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3 Simple Steps to Turn Forecasts into Management Decisions | SBA.gov


(This is published on the SBA Industry Word blog, Aug. 25, 2015: https://www.sba.gov/blogs/3-simple-steps-turn-forecasts-management-decisions)

You need sales forecasting to run your business better. The forecast becomes your budget, and then the budget is tracked, and tracking leads to watching results and constant corrections. Below budget sales are an alert to problems. Above budget sales are a window to opportunities. To get to the opportunities you have to forecast.

The math and structure of a sales forecasting is easy. Think of a spreadsheet with lines of sales or products along the left, from top to bottom; and time frames like months, quarters, or years along the top, from left to right.

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You can see from the illustration that the math is pretty easy. Divide your sales forecast into categories. Project average monthly units. Estimate average prices per unit. Multiply units times price to calculate sales.

The secret that I've found, working with forecasts through the years, is in the categories and averaging. I've gradually learned three mix-and-match secrets that make forecasting much easier.

1. Start With Your Sales Drivers

Drivers are different for each business, and you need to understand your special drivers. For my online software business, it's web and mobile traffic and conversion rates. For a retail store, it might be foot traffic. For a product business selling through retail chains, it might be average units per store per month. In the small restaurant example above, it's dividing the business into useful groups of items: coffee, lunches, beverages, and all other.

2. Match Your Forecast to your Accounting

It should be obvious: Make sure the way you organize the sales forecast matches the way your accountant (or bookkeeping) tracks them. That doesn't mean you have to leave the drivers out, as in point 1; it means that both the accounting and the drivers should match reality.

Match your chart of accounts, which is what accountants call your list of items that show up in your financial statements.

If the accounting divides sales into meals, drinks, and other, then the sales forecast should divide sales into meals, drinks, and other. So if your chart of accounts divides sales by product or service groups, keep those groups intact in your sales forecast. If bookkeeping tracks sales by product, don't forecast your sales by channel.

If you're planning for a startup business, coordinate the bookkeeping categories with the forecasting categories.

Get your last Income Statement (also called Profit & Loss) and keep it in view while you develop your future projections.

  • If you don't have more than 20 or so each rows of sales, costs, and expenses, then make the rows in the projected statement match the rows in the accounting.
  • If your accounting summarizes categories for you – most systems do – consider using the summary categories in your business plan. Accounting needs detail, while planning needs a summary.

If your categories in the projections don't match the accounting output, you're not going to be able to track plan vs. actual well. It will take retyping and recalculating. And you'll lose the most valuable business benefit of business planning: management, steering your company.

3. Regularly Compare Your Actual Results to Your Forecast

As long as your forecast structure matches your real sales drivers and your accounting too, then you have an always-available opportunity for useful updates. All bookkeeping and accounting software gives you sales reports that divide your sales results into the categories you established in your chart of accounts. If you forecast categories match your bookkeeping/accounting, then (once again) the math is simple.

Pull up last month's sales reports and compare them to your original sales forecast for that month.

  • At the top level, if actual sales are better than what you had forecasted, you have the opportunity to explore why, what went right, and take advantage of increased sales to increase marketing. Or simply enjoy higher profits.
  • Also at the top level, if actual sales are lower than what you'd forecasting, you have an alert to look at costs and expenses. Check your marketing programs to see whether something went wrong with execution. Explore causes.
  • Look at the sales categories and drivers, row-by-row, line-by-line, to explore which categories did better than expected, and which did worse. Explore your costs and expenses to examine the causes. Consider the differences between actual sales and forecasts as early alerts to events to come. Look for trends.

Now You Have Management

Too often people lose track of the point of sales forecasting, which is better management. It's not about guessing the future correctly; it's about setting down your assumptions on drivers and relationships so you can track results and see changes easily. Management is like steering, and steering is a matter of frequent course corrections.

If you have a sales forecast, and you regularly track the difference between your forecast and your actual results, then, even if you don't have the big formal business plan text, you have planning in your business.


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Disclosure: This sponsored post is one in a series of tips designed to guide small business owners through the challenges of today's startup environment and is sponsored by Canon MAXIFY – the printer lineup designed to help small business owners increase productivity so that they can focus on everything else that matters. For more information about the Canon MAXIFY printer lineup visit Canon MAXIFY


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