Meet The Team: Ron Numon of The Connecticut Region

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Ron, Where did you grow up? I was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, but spent my formative years in the Rocky Mountain West in Denver, Colorado.
Where did you study for college? I completed my BS in Business Administration at Centenary College in New Jersey.

What was the first job you had out of college? What was the most important lesson you learned there that has stuck with you for your entire professional career? I worked for Phillips Petroleum as a “Vanguard Manager” in charge of several retail operations in the Denver area. Providing great customer service was a very important element of the Phillips brand and I’ve adopted that as part of my everyday interactions with customers, clients, and professional associations.

What drew you to working with A Neumann and Associates (ANA)? I enjoyed a successful, 23-year career in the telecommunications industry and a long history of working in real estate, including owning my own brokerage company, but wasn’t ready to retire. ANA was growing and wanted to expand operations into Connecticut where my two adult children live. After exploring the opportunity we decided it was a great fit for both ANA and me.

What counties and states do you represent? I am the Managing Director for all of Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts.

What do you feel makes your region unique compared to others? There are many positives to doing business in CT –  here are six reasons CT is a great place for businesses:

  • Connecticut’s big name institutions are a big attraction for businesses looking to set up shop or relocate.
  • Connecticut’s talented labor pool keeps employers globally competitive.
  • Connecticut’s the kind of place where the living’s easy.
  • Connecticut’s prime locale provides companies with a globally strategic location.
  • A rich ecosystem of support for businesses has developed in Connecticut, providing easy access to capital to help both new and existing businesses grow.
  • Bright ideas are nothing new to the Nutmeg State.

What do you find is the biggest challenge in Connecticut compared to other states? According to a recent CBIA survey, businesses in CT are facing some tough challenges, namely profitability and growth (31% of respondents); government regulations, mandates, and other policy decisions (21%); and the cost of doing business/taxes (20%). The biggest minuses to doing business in Connecticut are taxes, a poor business climate, and high business costs, generally. This means we, as business brokers, need to be involved at all levels of community and state policy decision-making.

What do you find is the biggest advantage working in Connecticut compared to others? The biggest plus to doing business here is location (proximity to customers, vendors, family, other businesses in the supply chain, and major metropolitan centers), followed by quality of life.

What do you think is the most underrated opportunity in the Connecticut Region? Given the challenges discussed earlier, Connecticut business could greatly benefit from our turn-around advisory services, in essence, putting a company onto “firm ground” first before considering a business transfer.

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had working in the Connecticut/Massachusetts Region? I really enjoy meeting business executives and learning about their businesses and discovering how ANA can help them. I’ve found that once I’m in front of a business owner, we find lots of common ground and opportunities for mutual benefits.

Best advice for someone considering selling a business in Connecticut or buying a business in ConnecticutThe obvious answer is to give us a call. We will work with business owners to develop the right exit strategy, determine at the right price and terms, and do so in the shortest amount of time possible. Same for buyers and investors – call us. We will help you find the business that is the best fit for you – one that meets your investment objectives and then work with you to successfully acquire that business.

 

Meet The Team: Bruce DeCourt of The Southern Maryland & Virginia Regions

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Bruce, Where did you grow up? In the New Jersey, New York metro area.

Where did you study for college?  I got my BA at Rutgers University with Master’s studies at City University of New York.

What was the first job you had out of college? What was the most important lesson you learned there that has stuck with you for your entire professional career?   My first real job was cable TV sales, knocking on doors.  The lessons of persistence and being the “face of the company” have served me well throughout my career both in the cable television operations and sales management and telecommunications IT consulting worlds.

What drew you to working with A Neumann and Associates?  The opportunity to run my own show within the structure of a highly credible business organization.  And working with some of the brightest minds in the business brokerage business in Maryland, Virginia and the entire Northeast.

What counties and states do you represent?  Southern Maryland and Virginia.

What do you feel makes your region unique compared to others? Southern Maryland and Viriginia are both thriving economic regions with the highest new construction growth in the world.

What do you find is the biggest challenge in your region compared to others?  Very sophisticated and knowledgeable business clients and business climate.

What do you find is the biggest advantage working in the southern Maryland & Virginia region compared to others?  Business owners are attuned and receptive to knowledgeable business partners.

What do you think is the most underrated opportunity in your region? Business turnover due to baby boomers nearing retirement creates a large market for would-be business sellers.

What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had working in your region? The diversity of businesses and business owners.

Best advice for someone considering selling a business in Maryland or Selling a business in Virginia?  Understand your business valuation expectation and contact me for a consultation.

Best advice for someone considering buying a business in Maryland or Buying a business in Virginia? Contact A. Neumann & Associates to align your purchase interests to the right parties.

Things to consider when qualifying a business buyer

Of all the steps in the life cycle ofhandshake-1205055_640 a business, the exit is the one that generates the most excitement. All those long hours invested into growing an idea into a revenue-generating machine get rewarded by the hopeful large buyout, as well as the free time needed to enjoy it.

However, it is important for business sellers to carefully vet buyers, as there are many unqualified individuals for every suitable candidate.

Here is what an entrepreneur should consider when qualifying potential buyers for their business:

1) Do they have a time frame?

They should have a defined window in which they are prepared to do a deal. With no deadline, the resultant lack of focus wastes valuable time of the business seller.

While it would be ideal if all buyers were motivated to act within a short period, the seller should be prepared to impose their own limit on the amount of time that potential suitors can use before their chance to purchase the business vanishes.

If they miss the deadline, they’re out. Plain and simple. Asking prospective buyers if they will be able to respond with an offer to purchase the business within a given time frame is a polite way to do this.

2) What field/business were they in before?

There’s nothing worse than mis-communicating the skill sets required to successfully operate a business. Without making sure that a prospect has the background to handle basic tasks, the seller risks having the sale fall apart at the last minute. This wastes weeks of time on both sides.

Even if the sale got through somehow, the seller risks having their legacy tarnished if the new owner ends up running the business into the ground.

If there are only a few pieces missing with regards to the buyer’s business skills, training can be included in the deal to ensure a smooth transition between management teams.

3) How much money do they have?

While asking this question may be a social faux pas in many quarters, it is a highly relevant query when a seller is looking to complete a successful sale with a buyer.

There are many ambitious individuals that may seek to cut a financing deal with a seller to make up for their lack of capital up front.

However, it may not be wise for them to take on a sizable amount of risk when their goal is to offload the responsibilities of their company to a third party so they can cash out without worry.

The buyer should be able to prove to the seller that they have access to other sources of capital, such as from banks or other lenders, or that they have enough liquidity in their accounts to purchase the business outright.

The importance of journey mapping: from touch to purchase

Those new to the world of e-commerce likely have not heard of the concept of journey mapping. Simply put, it involves using analytic and research tools to help understand customer behavior on an e-commerce website.

There is much data that can be gathered, from why they are clicking on a specific product to why they abandon a purchase at the last second. Below, we will get into the specifics of this skill set for e-commerce site owners.

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Get to know customers intimately

Understanding what motivates the customer is key to driving more sales. Entrepreneurs that have knowledge of who comprises their target market can put together focus groups. By asking them specific questions, they can then use this information to fine-tune a product or the delivery of a service.

In the online realm, soliciting site visitors to fill out a survey can supply a lot of valuable data. There are also a number of online analytic tools that can track the behavior of visitors while they surf a specific site.

Find out what the customer likes – and suggest it to them

The above-mentioned strategies are old school techniques. New tools available these days allow business owners to analyze their customer’s web surfing habits, providing more actionable information than ever before. By making use of these programs, they can suggest additional purchases that would make sense for a specific consumer.

These upselling programs can help entrepreneurs realize greater profits in the long run. Here’s how: consumers often love the idea of bundling secondary purchases with products they had originally come to purchase. By offering them the chance to do just that, smart entrepreneurs can take advantage of an intensely profitable situation.

Make effective use of social media channels

These days, many consumers use the web to research purchases before clicking the ‘buy now’ button. They read reviews, and they also ask friends via social media channels what they think of a certain product.

Smart business owners can harness this concept by building social media functionality into their websites. By giving the customer a chance to ask questions about products and services, they can be persuaded to make a purchase when they might otherwise shy away.

Not only will providing this hotline give entrepreneurs a chance to persuade prospects to buy, but this can also boost the image of their brand if it is done in a helpful manner.

Cart abandonment e-mails: snatching victory from the jaws of defeat

The final stop along the path to purchase is the button that customers click to charge their credit card. At this point, many customers abandon the cart page for a variety of reasons. Often, it stems from a lack of information in a specific area, or perhaps the price turned out to be more than they were expecting.

By setting up a cart abandonment e-mail sequence, the business owner will give themselves a chance to recover a ton of sales. By reminding them of the items they almost purchased, offering a discount in case they thought the price was too high, or by mentioning to them that there is a limited quantity of a certain product in stock, many prospects will complete their journey to the checkout button.

What to know about buying a business with real estate

Purchasing a business can be complicated process, especially for first timers. When this transaction includes real estate, things can get even more complex.
While some think that it is a good idea to own the land beneath one’s business, there are an equal amount of reasons why this might be a bad idea for the business owner.

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Leasing during the start up phase of a business just makes sense

The vast majority of business owners lease space for their business. Doing so gives them the flexibility to move whenever they feel the need, and it frees up capital that is crucial for the growth of their start-up.

Despite what many pundits say, real estate is frequently a liability rather than an asset. Real estate booms are usually a short-lived phenomenon; the rest of the time, prices go up very slowly, and maintenance and repair bills associated with property ownership can chip away at a company’s fragile bottom line. For these reasons, we recommend leasing during the early years of a business.

When does it make sense to purchase real estate for a business?

There are circumstances when it does make sense to purchase real estate for a business. Acquire property when:

(1) There is a need to lock down a certain location

Certain types of businesses need to be situated in certain parts of a town or city in order to succeed. If an entrepreneur wants to get into the boutique jewelry business, they would do well to locate themselves in a prime shopping district.

In situations where vacancies are scarce, a successful business owner might want to consider purchasing real estate for their business to avoid having to open their business in unsuitable locations, such as high crime neighborhoods or industrial parks.

(2) Controlling other tenants in the building is a top priority

When space is leased for a business, the business owner will often have no control over other tenants that take up residence in the building.

It may not be desirable to have businesses such as a smelly sandwich shop set up next door if the business owner in question deals in high-value clothing that sells for thousands of dollars a piece.

If a business owner has sufficient capital or financing at their disposal, then purchasing an entire building in order to control who rents out the other stalls might be a gamble worth taking.

Appraise the value of real estate apart from assets of the business

When a business owner with real estate puts their company up for sale, they will often lump the value of their property together with that of their business assets. When this situation occurs, it is prudent to appraise the value of business assets apart from the value of the property.

While this can be a time-consuming process, the extra effort taken will protect the buyer from paying a price that is out of line with what the property and the business is actually worth.

What do Millennials look for in both work and life?

Many hiring managers regard Millennials to be a mysterious lot, as the values that this generation holds stand in stark contrast to what they have embraced throughout their careers. What exactly do Millennials want from their work and personal lives? This article will aim to shed some light on what this new cohort seeks to get out of life.

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To contribute towards a higher purpose

Millennials seek to impact the world in a positive way, whether it is through their job or through volunteer opportunities. They want to work with companies that have a clear vision for making this world a better place, as this century has the environment and society at a crossroads.

Enterprises that can best articulate how they are working to help make things better will have an advantage over other businesses in securing top Millennial talent.

The pursuit of a high quality of life

Every generation seeks a quality of life that is better than that of the previous one. Millennials are no different, but they often seek to gain in areas such as time and location flexibility as well.

A decent salary is highly desired by millennials, but perks such as fitness centers, break areas with amusements such as foosball tables, and remote working arrangements often tip the scale in favor of companies that are bold enough to offer them.

To be connected to the things that matter most to them

The rise of the Internet occurred in parallel with the formative years of the Millennials, so it should come as no surprise that they value companies that are savvy with regards to its ability to bring people together.

The internet allows Millennials to be connected to the things that matter to them the most, whether it is the latest developments in the lives of their friends, a hobby that they are interested in, or recent advancements in their field.

Smart companies have taken advantage of this tendency by building social messaging platforms within their intranet. This provides Millennial employees a collaborative tool that enables them to get work done in a manner that is second nature to them.

Financial and employment security

While the above listed qualities are all things that Millennials actively seek in their lives, they desire financial security just as much as previous generations. The last 20 years have seen a shift in the global business landscape, with positions in many industries being automated, outsourced or streamlined.

This has created a climate of job instability, with many Millennials often being forced to shift from one temporary gig to another. Companies that wish to attract top Millennial talent should not discount the impact of offering salaries that are above the industry average, as well as providing a work environment that is forgiving of non-fatal mistakes.

This latter quality embraces the entrepreneurial spirit that many in this generation have adopted in response to the employment challenges that many of them have faced in recent years.

Commanding attention in a saturated market: a guide for small business owners

One of the biggest problems for small businesses today is getting noticed in a sea of competitors. While the Internet has opened up a world of possibilities, it has also made it difficult to stand out from other businesses.

What can a startup do to command attention in a saturated market?  Below, we will share a few tips on how to overcome the noise that many entrepreneurs face when marketing their business on the Internet:

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1) Use social media creatively

These days, many customers rely on social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter to make decisions about whether to trust a product or service. When it comes to building a relationship with them, the same rules of social engagement in real life also apply online.

Listen to customers before pitching to them. Asking them about what they want and actually caring about their concerns is vital to success in a social media campaign. Once it is clear how they feel, marketing strategies can be shaped, allowing entrepreneurs to tailor products and services to their target market.

2) Improve web presence using current SEO techniques

Another way to rise above the noise in a niche is to hire an SEO consultant. Knowledgeable about the latest trends in their field, they will be able to optimize a company’s website so its listing will rise up in the ranks of Google and other search engines.

There is more to this than simply building backlinks and stuffing a company’s web page with keywords. From improving a website’s usability, to simplifying copy so that customers can better understand its purpose, there is much that an intelligent SEO consultant can do to improve the web presence of a small business.

3) Work in tandem with an established brand

Building a brand from the ground up can be exhausting work. Why not hitch it to the rocket ship of an established brand? By reaching out to companies that are well-established in their space, small businesses can gain the sort of visibility that their competition dreams about.

By adding value to a larger company’s offerings, smaller businesses can improve their results in a relatively short period of time.

4) Give away product to top flight bloggers

Many people have  blogs and bloggers that they follow. In the past, a great way to increase a startup’s profile was to get their products into the hands of celebrities.

While this is still true in fields with a high degree of traditional media coverage, those in niche industries should endeavor to get their product or service reviewed by an influential blogger.

Once their review goes live on their site, a backlink will be provided, providing a measurable boost in traffic, giving the entrepreneur an opportunity to connect with a flood of new potential customers.

“How to make a startup look big and robust” is locked How to make a startup look big and robust

The fight for credibility is one of the hardest parts of launching a startup. In a space with well-established competitors, looking professional is vital for the long-term survival of a company.

Learning how to make a startup look big is a skill that an entrepreneur should master before taking on seasoned businesses in any niche. Below, we will discuss a few ways that this can be accomplished:

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Make use of top-quality web design

Nowadays,  most businesses use the web to hunt for new clients or vendors. When they have multiple companies to choose from, chances are good that they will go with the one that has a professionally-designed web presence.

By having an easy to navigate interface, these companies make it easy for clients to say yes to them. By fixing anything on their site that contradicts this philosophy, a startup can improve their client acquisition efforts.

Bonus tip: add a blog to your website to add another layer of credibility for your website visitors.

Increase the marketing budget considerably

When a startup begins its business journey,  nobody knows who they are. As such, it is vital that they focus heavily on marketing early on in their life cycle.

In order to pay for an ambitious promotional campaign that will get them noticed,  it is often necessary to cut back on certain areas of the business for a short time, or to obtain a loan.

In a marketplace that is often swamped with established players, this is a tough but necessary step to gain the traction a business needs to get itself to the next level.

Take advantage of the power of social media

Startups today have a leg up on businesses that were founded a generation ago: they get to take advantage of the power of social media.

Leveraged properly, this medium offers free promotional opportunities to those that are savvy enough to harness its power.

With cleverly written copy, attentive customer service, and timely (but tactful) responses to events that impact their industry, a startup can sound like an industry leader for only the cost of an intelligent social media manager.

Get a 1-800 number with an automated voice prompt system

If a startup wants to sound important,  having a 1-800 number with a professional sounding voice prompt system is a great way to create a solid first impression with potential clients.

So long as the voice prompts are not set up in a fashion that confuses and frustrates callers, having this system setup as a first point of contact will make a startup business look professional.

Whether looking to have your startup acquired or just build something meaningful, the above tips should help you make your startup look big and robust until it’s actually there.

3 Books that will stoke the entrepreneurial spirit

There’s no question about it, choosing to become an entrepreneur is no easy task. Fortunately, one can learn many of the soft skills required to become a successful business person by reading books by those who have had success. Here are are 3 book every entrepreneur should read.

Below, we will provide a brief synopsis of 3 books that will stoke the entrepreneurial spirit in any person that wants to begin building their own future.

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1) Purple Cow, by Seth Godin

Knowing how to advertise and market products effectively is key to success in business. By standing out above the noise made by the competition, consistent success can be achieved.

This point is driven home in memorable fashion by Seth Godin in his book, Purple Cow. In order to enjoy success in a marketplace saturated by distractions, he says that a product or service must be so remarkable that one can see how it differs from the competition when they first encounter it.

In today’s world, being different trumps conformity when different is the more effective, efficient and fun way to do things.

2) Crush It, by Gary Vaynerchuk

Being one of the most intense entrepreneurs out there today, Gary Vaynerchuk is a living, breathing example of how the power of hustle can lead to better business results.

The primary message of this book is this: most people that want to make it happen have all the intellectual capability and skills they need to succeed; the only thing that is standing in the way is work, and lots of it.

Hard work, intelligently applied, can lead to impressive results; Crush It provides the motivation and the road map that can help a wannabe entrepreneur to get on the the road to becoming a successful business person.

3) Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi

It’s not what one knows, it’s who they know: it’s been said time and again, but there is a large degree of truth to this maxim.

It is this point that has led Keith Ferrazzi to write his best-selling book, Never Eat Alone. The principle of this book centers around the fact that no matter how busy anyone is, we all have to eat.

Keith argues in his book that the ambitious entrepreneur should make the best use of this time by eating as many meals as possible with people from whom they can learn valuable skills.

By conducting themselves in a congenial manner and providing value to the other party, business people without a robust network can build one within a relatively short period of time.

Habits of Business Leaders Who Command Respect

In the business world, success is often not determined by objective markers such as IQ, but by whether one’s peers respect them as a human being.

Having the emotional intelligence to win the respect of those that surround them is an underrated success factor for business leaders looking to achieve their goals.

Below, we will explain how successful business leaders command the respect of those that they lead,  and those who they seek to influence in the marketplace.

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1) They set a great example for those under them

Through their actions, great business leaders set an example everyday that inspires those under their command to achieve amazing things.

When they say something, they mean it. When they make promises, they follow through on them. When a member of their team is struggling, they get down in the trenches and help them figure out what they need to do to succeed.

By aspiring to a high standard of professional conduct, these business leaders receive a great deal of respect from employees and executives alike.

2) They speak confidently when expressing their ideas

Language is an area that the respected business professional focuses a significant amount of attention on when they aspire to climb the ladder of success.

When they speak, they don’t bracket their assertions with qualifiers such as “This might be a bad idea, but…” or “This might sounds, stupid, but…”, as it would undermine their credibility.

Those that say such things seek to protect their ego from being injured by others,  but strong business leaders don’t shy away from dissenting opinions, so they don’t feel the need to wrap their statements in protective shells of speech.

This willingness to go out on a limb and expose themselves to criticism earns them considerable respect from their peers.

3) They own their successes and failures

The bold business leader doesn’t shy away from celebrating their successes, nor do they hide from their failures.

On the latter point, many respected business executives view their failures as stepping stones to the former, rather than something that they should be embarrassed about.

When successful people see this degree of maturity concerning the ups and downs of business from a business leader, they tend to have a healthy level of respect for that person.

4) They express the body language of a winner

Anybody can talk a great game, but when it comes to business leaders that dominate their niche,  those that have a confident air about them are usually the ones that end up on top.

Most effective communication is transmitted by body language through cues such as posture,  handshakes and eye contact.

Whether they are looking to impress a client, or do a deal with a fellow entrepreneur, respect is given to those that carry themselves in a confident manner via superior body language.