Small business owner and CPA, Edward Hastreiter, sense 1979 has spent more than 34 years consulting with small business owners on how to make their small business successful and profitable. Not only has he worked with thousands of businesses on a monthly basis as a CPA but he also manages a staff of 14 CPA/Accountants and 22 additional employees in Waukesha and West Bend, Wisconsin. He belongs to a variety of organizations that include the AICPA, PASBA, MMAC and AMMO.
We sat down with Ed at his Waukesha office discussing what makes some small businesses successful and why others go out of business.
Q: What recommendations would you give to a person wanting to start a new business adventure?
Ed: I would highly recommend implementing a business plan. A well-written plan with attainable company and personal goals gives you a target to achieve and strive for. Set deadlines for them. Monitor your development every 6 months. Too many businesses fail because they deal with emotion and not facts; a business plan takes the emotion out of it and gives you an unbiased perspective of what it will take to succeed using hard numbers and not your gut feeling. However, keep mind that at the end of the day it is just a plan and when you go into business you are taking a risk. There are no guarantees for success, however if you fail to plan, plan to fail! And most importantly learn how read a financial statement it’s vital to running your business successfully and is the one major skill lacked by most business owners.
Q: Based on your years’ of experience, what simple advice can you give to small business owners to help them build their business?
Ed: Every business must have a niche. Differentiate yourself from others having a product or service that will make your company unique. Also make sure you understand your business model and how you make money.
Q: How have you become so successful?
Ed: I’ve made learning a life-long commitment. I try to stay up on the latest technology and implement it into my business. Most importantly I read consistently and am always looking for new ideas. Remember, leaders are readers. I try to always be honest and fair with myself and play by the rules. Integrity goes a long way in the business world. The biggest factor to my success is persistence and dedication. Failure simply is not an option for me and I have made a commitment to myself and my team to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Q: How do you find the right people to be a part of your team?
Ed: Make sure you hire people with the skills required for the job. At the interview take into account the intangible qualities like work ethic, integrity and a positive attitude. You can train skills but it’s extremely difficult to train attitude. Do they fit within your company culture? It’s hard to see how new hires will work out and with that said a question I love is; Three years from now, would I enthusiastically rehire this person?
Hire people when you find them – not when you need them. When you have the right people on the bus, you’ll get where you need to be.
Finishing up our conversation with Ed, he gave us an overview of his business philosophy and how he manages his day – to – day operations.
“In 2009 I was asked to speak at a Milwaukee business expo. I put together 10 simple, common tips that all small business owners would find value in. I titled this booklet, “Ten Secrets to Achieving Results in Your Small Business”. These tips are relatively basic tools – they’re straight-forward concepts every business owner should be implementing daily.
One “secret” or tip is that owners must have integrity and a passion for their business. Integrity means fairness. Be fair to your team and give them the benefit of doubt. If there is a challenge around a company policy, make it right with them this time and clarify it going forward. Your team has to be able to trust you and the system you’ve established.
Secondly, have a passion for your business because without that you won’t be able to get through the hard times. It also makes operating the business more fun. Question everything; don’t believe something just because it is written in some book. Constantly seek out new ideas and others’ point of view. Make your own determination as to what will work best for you and your business.
Have and know your business model, Ed says. A well-developed system leaves little room for error and increases productivity, consistency and profitability. Over the years I’ve learned to work ON my business and not IN my business. This was a hard concept from me to grasp at first. It took me many years to implement this concept but after reading the E-myth Revisited, I realized that my role within my company would have to shift if I wanted the company to grow. Leadership and guidance is what clients and employees are looking for and trust me if they don’t get it from you they will get it from somewhere and that not may be a good thing for you and your business.
Most importantly, keep it simple and don’t get into anything you don’t understand. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I have seen more business fail because of that than anything else. I always like to say “Cover all your basses” so you are positioned financially that if everything failed you could still close the doors and have financially security.
To learn more about the “Ten Secrets to Achieving Results In Your Small Business”, visit: www.ewhsba.com or call 262-796-1040 for a copy of the booklet.