[SSB#13] A house is not a home, it is a POTENTIAL home:- building your dream business.
A newsletter from
Welcome to the 13th edition of my newsletter "Supersonic Business", a fortnightly publication by me, Laura Landmark, with a focus on business growth, value and performance management, in other words, all things that make a business better.
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Sandnes, Norway, Saturday morning, 22nd February 2020 🌄
"Supersonic Business" is sent from me, a Management Accountant, to those that have a leading position in SME's (small/medium businesses). The vision for the newsletter is to share information, tips and tricks to build healthy, thriving businesses from the 'inside out', it is written from the finance and administration perspective.
I hope you enjoy [SSB#13], write to me on email@example.com if you have any feedback or questions.
Today we will start with a little story, in fact, the entire newsletter today is a journey from creating a business, as a place you can flourish and thrive, but at the same time representing a force for good. But let's start at the beginning, the source, the house, the shell that is going to contain all of this energy and facilitate all of this activity.
Imagine a perfectly built house on a beautiful hill. The view is fantastic, the surroundings are idyllic, you meet some of the neighbours, they are friendly and kind, plus the local community is mature and well landscaped with local facilities and shops nearby.
The house is for sale, and it is on the market for a very reasonable price, well within your price range. You are excited about looking inside, you have very high hopes for the house.
The estate lets you in, you look around and see ... the house of your dreams? Not exactly, you see nothing much! You walk from room to empty room and it is all just white walls, no fixtures, fittings or furniture. It feels cold and unlived in, but strong and sturdy.
Finally, you find one room where there is a table, chairs, a lamp, and a rug, it is a showroom. It looks really homely, maybe not exactly your taste, but it gives you an idea of how things could be.
I see the potential
You finish looking at the inside of the house and step outside into the moonlight feeling energized by all the potential contained in the house.
The house is empty, so it needs attention, but that is OK, as the price is great so you have enough money in your budget to buy the house, plus buy and install all the fixtures, fittings, furniture, plumbing and electrics that you need. You also know exactly the tradespeople you can use for the job. You are ecstatic and can't wait to put in your offer, buy the house and get started creating a home.
He did not see what he was looking for
At the same time, you were viewing the house there was another person walking around an identical house next door, he went from room to room with his eyes fixed on the floor and a glum look on his face. He quickly finished his rounds, stepped outside, and said to the agent, that he liked the area, the community, the garden and the houses from the outside, but he didn't find what he was looking for inside, and therefore, the house was not for him, and he hurried away.
Then there was a third person, he also walked around the identical house next door pretty quickly, and didn't seem very engaged, and stepped outside and said more or less the same thing to the agent as the second man. The agent encouraged him to go back inside and take another look.
He took a second look & then he saw it
"Stop in the room with the table and chairs and let's look together at some of the interior magazines that are on the table," the agent said. They did this, and after some time the third man also became very excited about the house. He said he didn't find what he was looking for at first, but now he saw it.
After using his imagination and spending some time with the agent, he could visualize colors and textures. He imagined extending the back of the house and adding a glass room, and also converting the loft into an office with dormer windows and a panoramic view. He also imagined luxury bathrooms and led lighting, and sound wired through the entire house. He asked the agent if there were any local tradespeople who had a proven track record of fitting out the houses in this community. The agent knew just the crew to recommend.
So there were three types of people viewing these houses:-
There was you who, person number one, who immediately saw the potential. You looked beyond all that you 'couldn't see' and embraced the chance to fit out a home to your own specification. The freedom and flexibility was a thrilling prospect for you, and the blank canvas gave you the opportunity to create the right environment for yourself and your family with no restrictions or limitations. You met the trade crew and project leader and knew you could work together with them to create your dream home using the best materials and best practice.
The second person had no vision, he expected to walk into the house and see everything ready, exactly how he imagined it should be and as it was in his head. When he didn't see exactly what he was looking for, he walked away and missed the opportunity to create his dream home.
The third person took a little more time and needed a bit more encouragement and coaching, but in the end, he too was full of ideas about how to create a home that looked and felt exactly how he wanted it to where he could throw open his doors to neighbors and friends and even strangers and welcome everyone in.
We meet these three types every day
These are the three types of people we also meet every day in our business. The house analogy works in our world of Business Performance Management (BPM), as the software we work with are empty shells, like empty houses. They are waiting to be populated, fitted out, energized and plugged into all the things that are meaningful to you. Exactly you! So that you can build the house (or business) of your dreams.
We meet so many potential customers that struggle a little to understand the beauty and power of a blank canvas, but still, plenty more that do 'get it'. We are often asked what is the difference between your solutions, and other available software and tools.
It can be like comparing the house I described with a small caravan. The caravan is great for a little holiday, but if you want to live in a house where you can realize your dreams, have space to maneuver, and the possibility to extend, expand, upgrade, and decorate to your own tastes, you need something more flexible, larger, more robust, something with greater potential. We work with a range of different software (houses), and always strive to find the right one for the right customer. There is no 'one size fits all'.
Incidentally, in case it was not obvious, we at Mantle are the crew of tradespeople that get your house ship-shape. This is our trade, our passion, and our life's work. We have practiced our craft and our trade for many many years in order to create the environment that you need to run your businesses effectively and shower your internal and external stakeholders with the value you create in your home.
We can only achieve this when collaborating with the homeowners (business owners or managers). We have come unstuck before when hearing a comment from a customer that goes something like this
"you are the experts, you have done this before, just fit out my bathroom the way you think it should be done"
After getting some clues from the customer on colors and tastes we create what we believe they want, only to find we end up with an unhappy or awkward situation when the customer walks in and doesn't find what they visualized in their head.
We, therefore, spend a lot of time with the customers upfront to distill this information and understand exactly what they need and want. Then we help them prioritize, based on their budget and what is important to them, plus to help them grasp the low hanging fruits so they don't miss out on any 'freebies'.
This takes time, and understanding, it means forming a relationship and mutual understanding, which is just as much of an investment for the customer as the money.
A customer MUST spend time with us so we can design to their specification. We advocate to break things down into manageable chunks, we work room by room instead of taking one brief form the customer at the beginning, then fitting out the whole house. We learn together as we go, what works, what doesn't work. But we can only achieve the perfect end results if the customer is involved at every step.
Our tools are programming languages and software frameworks, SQL, C#, Java,.Net (and much more), our materials are data, our infrastructure (our houses) are cloud-based computing platforms, our canvas, walls, and screens are dashboards and reports.
We are often asked for examples of our ideal customers, and I answer either customer number one (you - who 'gets it.') or number three (he - who strives to 'get 'it'). As long as the customer has the willingness to open their minds and build with us, we can create together a management platform of their dreams.
This sounds very idealistic, and maybe a little overdramatic, but it is important, critical in fact. We are talking about businesses that support families, communities, create jobs, pay wages that enable people to travel, relax, build, create, entertain, volunteer, serve, teach, learn, help or whatever else they want to do in their free time.
In addition to creating the home of your dreams, we are facilitating businesses to look at the bigger wider picture. About their role in society, how they create and add value to the world around them, and they can minimize what they are draining, or reduce how they are stamping all over from our wonderful world.
This is a major focus of Mantle and the reason for the name. The Mantle being deep down around the center of the earth. We at Mantle have the desire to help people drill right down into their core, dig out and share the value contained within, as value always comes from within.
Value comes from within, but it should not stay burried inside
On a practical level, our solutions mature with the customer, it often starts with a couple of simple dashboards, then ends with a full-blown cockpit of controls and key performance indicators, reports, rolling forecasts and a range of dashboards. Each user in the workspace (the house) getting access to exactly what they need to see, and whenever they need to see it. This allows them to grow safe, valuable, sustainable businesses where people can share information love to work.
We at Mantle pride ourselves on creating custom solutions (houses), large or small, we are not trying to create a one size fits all model, and that's why our solutions work, I mean REALLY work for our customers.
Full transparency to facilitiate great deicison making
We build their homes with them and for them using the best software and best practice. We arm them with tools to ensure they know where they are now, and where they are heading. We advocate for full transparency to facilitate great decision making.
So today's newsletter is about Business Performance Management, and what it takes to create a business with power and a force for good. I hope I highlight the idea that this is impossible unless your performance management solutions are designed, configured and built for you, with your vision in mind, and to do this you really need the right crew on your side.
In a world that is going more standard, we are striving to go the other way, by taking the best of everything that is already available, supplementing it with that which is missing, and sticking it all together like lego bricks into a customized ecosystem that works for your business. We apply the glue between your systems then design the front end so you can see your big picture.
The message running through this newsletter and the motivation for writing it runs so deep through the core of everything we are trying to achieve at Mantle that it moves me emotionally just thinking of it. It is so big, the potential is so massive, the force for positive change so compelling, and we are super excited to be a tiny weeny cog in the big wheel driving towards creating a truly integrated business environment.
PM me if you would like to start creating a plan for your own business
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5 things you need to let go to become successful
I love some of the points made in this article. It has nothing to do with software or Business Performance Management (BPM), but the points are really relevant to my story above.
Do not resist change is particularly relevant, let's embrace change, as change means movement, and that means development and progress. In my house on a hill story above, and in our everyday interactions we often see customers who get themselves a house, but do not spend the time and energy needed to develop the home.
They are missing a trick, as it is when you take care of your software and machines, they will take care of you, then you can take care of your business, your family and your world.
Think big, or at least give up thinking small. We all have so much potential, as do our businesses, but we are so inclined to limit our thinking and limit our perception. This is a huge shame. Let's get out of our own heads and look at things from the 30ft perspective. There are no limitations, for ourselves or our businesses, only the ones we build around us.
Read the full article here
Organizations struggle with bridging data strategy to execution
This is a great article that illustrates the point of all the potential value being held captive in our data, due to our inability to extract it. The problems often revolve around a shortage of skills in being able to work with the data.
It is important not to let this be a limiting factor. If you don't have the skillsets inside the house, then hire it in. Bring in the right people with the right tools to get your company set up for success. We owe it to ourselves, the people we work with and the society we serve to get things working efficiently so that we can reach our full potential.
One of our motivations for setting up Mantle was a lack of availability of organizations serving SME's (small medium businesses) with Business Performance Management solutions. BPM involves tech + finance/accounting + business logic + strategic focus. Mantle exists to fill this gap and we love working with our customers offering these talents 'on tap' when and where needed.
We work with businesses all over Norway integrating data and enabling deep business insights via reports/ budgets/ dashboards and analytics. Remember a lot of this software is very new, it is not surprising that there is a lack of understanding or knowledge around how to use it to extract, manipulate & interpret data. There is no shame in that, we advocate for businesses focusing on what they are good at and hiring in the technical talent when needed to supplement their own fantastic teams.
Even in organizations that do have technical bods, it is often necessary to hire in a range of additional talent. Not every job is hammer and nail, so to speak!
74% of organisations acknowledging that data is a critical business priority. Consultancy.uk
Read the full article here
Cloud ERP integration supports 400% increase in productivity
I came across this article which highlights how making one integration between your ERP (accounting system) and another operational system can (and does) result in an immediate quantifiable gain. In this case, they integrated their ERP with a document system and had an immediate productivity increase of 400%.
We complete these kinds of integrations at Mantle every month. A very typical example is where sales are generated in an operational system and the invoices need to be entered into the ERP. Today there is A LOT of manual work around moving information from one system to another.
Taking the house analogy one step further, we create a new door between two systems (or rooms), and let the information flow automatically from one system to another. This enables us to help you harness insights into financial as well as non-financial information which is critical in today's landscape for making really value-added decisions.
Data source integrations are not necessarily the 'sexiest' jobs, but they are extremely functional and save a heck of a lot of time and reduce errors & risk which means more time for value-adding, and better facts on the table.
read the full article here
So what is the point of all this efficiency, or great software and solutions and I have described above?
The point is not just to make things easier for yourselves (although that is a bonus), but to create long term sustainable businesses with a focus on their role in society, building value for internal as well as external stakeholders.
This means moving the focus away from financial reporting towards focusing on a broader range of measures that contribute value over the longer term.
This value creation ideology is the backbone of integrated reporting, and all of this is becoming a major feature driven by the IIRC and something Mantle has a deep interest in.
Integrated reporting requires integrated thinking, and integrated systems, it is the future, and we at Mantle are excited about being able to play a small part in facilitating integrated outcomes.
Did you know?
The International <IR> Framework (ie Integrated Reporting Framework) was released in 2013 following extensive consultation and testing by businesses and investors in all regions of the world, including the 140 businesses and investors from 26 countries that participated in the IIRC Pilot Programme.
The primary purpose of the Framework itself is to provide guidance on the practicalities of producing an integrated report and to explain the concepts behind integrated reporting, namely strategic focus and future orientation, stakeholder and materiality focus, conciseness, connectivity and reliability of the information, and consistency and comparability.
Any communication claiming to be an integrated report should apply these principles.
It identifies the type of information to include and how to present it, but strikes a balance between flexibility and prescription as necessitated by the wide variation in circumstances of different organizations.
"An integrated report is a concise communication about how an organization’s strategy, governance, performance and prospects, in the context of its external environment, lead to the creation of value in the short, medium and long term."
Words of wisdom
Books on the bedside table this week.
I have to read this book at least once a year. Gay Hendricks totally nails it when he describes the upper limiting problem that we all inherently have.
Have you ever found yourself having a lovely day, and then all of a sudden some dark or worrying thought or feeling starts trying to nudge its way in. Read this book and find out why and how to deal with it, its fascinating.
Top Tip -
Make things in business simple and uncomplicated
"Less is more"!
Always end with a thanks!
Something to watch
Have a peek at my last video where I talk to Kenneth Flaglien of Visma software about the order to cash process where he explains how to ensure you get 30% of your money on time. A lifesaver for a scaling business.
Thanks for reading & see you next time
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