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Uncover Your Business’s Most Valuable Hidden Asset

Quick! What is your most valuable business asset?

If you are like most business people, your mind might quickly fly over your balance sheet. Is it your equipment? Is it your location? Is it your accounts receivable?

For most businesses, the most valuable business asset isn’t on the balance sheet.

It’s their customer list. And those businesses for which this isn’t the most valuable business asset should change their orientation to make it so.

The hardest, most expensive sale we ever make to a customer is the first one.

In that first, critical, transaction we earn or lose the trust of the customer. Once we have the trust of the customer, we open the door to many more sales and to referrals, which most of us agree are the very best new customers to get.

Many businesses frantically work at bringing in new businesses while they neglect developing the “acre of diamonds” at their doorstep represented by their customer list.

Why would you want to know the lifetime value of a customer?

The lifetime value of a customer is a measure of the value of the customer to your business. It is the potential contribution of the customer to your business over a period of time. When you know the lifetime value of a customer, you have a benchmark for how much you would or should be willing to invest to acquire a customer.

When you evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing, instead of focusing on the response ratio (how many responded compared to messages delivered), you should focus on the return received (number of customers times lifetime value) for the investment made (campaign cost). Suddenly you find you can justify a much greater promotion investment when you look at your returns in this way, and this provides the engine for significant business growth.

Chances are your competitors are too cheap to make the necessary investment, and this can give you a competitive advantage.

How can you quantify the “lifetime value of a customer?”

Estimate the profit for the transactions you expect to have with the customer over the period you expect to do business with him or her. If this is an unknown long term, use five years. You should collect statistics of the transactions done with customers and how long you keep customers. Also, factor in the benefit for referrals from your customers.

Here’s an example:

At a computer software store, customers make average purchases each year of $500. The average gross profit is 30 percent. Most customers do business with the store for five years. One out of three customers refers a new customer.

Average purchases $ 500
Years X 5
Total purchases $2,500
Gross profit percent X .30
Total gross profit $750
Add 1/3 gross profit for referrals $250
Total lifetime value $1,000
If this business invested $1,000 to get a new customer, it would “break even.”

Obviously the business wants to make a profit, but now it has a benchmark to work on based on its own situation. Also, advertising and promotion now represent an investment on which a return can be measured, instead of just an expense “thrown against the wall.”

Try applying this lifetime value approach in your business as a growth strategy.

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    • a. A Virtual CFO can be a much-needed sounding board, coach, and guide. Outsourced Virtual CFO is generally not just one person, but an experienced team of professionals providing a full-stack Accounting and Finance Department at a fraction of the cost that it would otherwise cost a business to hire even just one full-time CFO internally. The right virtual CFO service team, such as the one at Perpetual CPA, can deliver timely, detailed, comprehensive financial reporting, interpret the financial data, prioritize recommendations, give expert guidance on how to execute those recommendations, and ultimately give a better path to business success.
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      b. A Virtual Accounting Department can integrate with a company’s own accounting department to create a blended solution or provide a full-stack accounting department, including Accounting Staff, Manager, Controller, and Virtual CFO. By using a Virtual Accounting Department Small business owners don’t have to worry about hiring, training, figuring out compensation, and payroll compliance for the internal accounting team. Also as the business grows and new and more complex accounting and tax issues come up, the outsourced Virtual Accounting Department can provide all the needed expertise to facilitate continued business success.
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    • a. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) do a lot more than just crunch numbers and prepare taxes. They provide valuable expertise and strategies to help businesses and individuals achieve their business and financial goals. A CPA firm can help small businesses with management financial reporting, tax compliance, strategic business advice, and much more. Firms like Perpetual CPA, that specialize in helping small and medium-sized businesses achieve growth, can also provide Virtual CFO services, that help the business owners have the foresight into the short-term future cashflows and be able to more successfully navigate their business performance.
  • What are the best strategies for small business growth?
    • a. A business growth strategy is, simply, a plan of how a business gets from where it is today to where it wants to be in the future.

      b. Some of the questions to consider when coming up with a growth strategy are:
      i. Where will the business get new customers from?
      ii. How will the business expand into new markets?
      iii. What new products could the business offer?

      c. In reality, what happens with many small businesses, is that they generally achieve a specific level of business activity or sales and then the business growth trend flattens. In those cases, working with a firm like Perpetual CPA, which provides Virtual CFO services, can help small businesses avoid stagnation. Virtual CFO services, aside from providing timely accounting and tax reporting, can also provide valuable insight into the current performance of the business, as well as, foresight into the future cash flows for the business. Perpetual CPA Virtual CFO team helps small businesses interpret their financial information and come up with business strategies to help improve business performance and achieve growth.
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      b. For many small and medium-sized businesses, the easiest way to develop and implement a business risk management plan is to work with a reputable CPA firm, such as Perpetual CPA. Large corporations invest a lot of resources and time into managing risk, which is a material factor that allows those large corporations to continue to generate billions of dollars in revenue every year. Small businesses, however, almost never manage any business risks, which is the major reason that over half of all the small businesses do not survive for more than 5 years. Generally, small business owners are not experienced corporate business professionals and lack the needed business knowledge, yet they often have to wear many hats while trying to get their businesses off the ground. In those situations, a CPA firm such as Perpetual CPA, can help small businesses better manage tax compliance risks, cash flow, internal controls, business administration, financial reporting, and much more.
  • What is Strategic Advisory and Virtual CFO? / How do Strategic Advisory and Virtual CFO services work?
    • a. When small businesses start spinning wheels, it is a good time to consider hiring a reputable CPA firm, such as Perpetual CPA, which can provide both Strategic Advice and Virtual CFO services.

      b. As a strategic advisor, the CPA firm will work with business management to improve the effectiveness and profitability of the business. They will look holistically at the business and find ways to operate the business more efficiently, increase customers through additional or improved marketing or improve customer touchpoints and service.

      c. As a Virtual CFO, the CPA firm is like a part-time version of a traditional CFO or Chief Financial Officer plus a full Accounting support team. They perform the tasks that in a larger organization would be performed by the CFO, Controller, and Accounting Staff such as preparing and overseeing the budget process, identifying and analyzing current and future trends, and developing strategies for the business growth.
  • How can timely financial visibility and management reporting help with better business decisions and growth?
    • a. A simple way to a successful business is to prioritize the timely financial visibility and management reporting as it means:
      i. Timely financial information and analysis are essential for making informed decisions, evaluating your company’s results, improving financial performance, and ensuring you are on the path to meet your strategic goals.
      ii. Management reporting is a source of business intelligence that helps business leaders make more accurate, data-driven decisions. But, these reports are most useful if they are available timely and the management receives proper interpretation of the business financial information.

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