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  • When it comes to business growth, which is more important: driving revenue or optimizing profitability? The truth is that success lies in the balance of both. So how do you find the right balance between driving revenue and optimizing profitability for your business?

    In this article, Work It Daily experts from Vistage will discuss the power of balancing revenue and optimizing profit for long-term success as it generates sustainable revenue while controlling costs. Read on to hear these Vistage Chairs explain how this balance allows you to work smarter, not harder, for business growth.

    Kirsten Yurich

    We’ve all heard the saying, “Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, and cash is reality.” All three are vitally important. But they are also measures of things. Things in business. And it’s these things in our companies that require the attention of leaders. Things like what has changed in the last 30 days in our market landscape that alters our understanding of the future? Did we do what we said we were going to do in the last quarter? What was the numerical impact of the changes we made?

    Numbers like revenue, profit, and cash flow help us evaluate the impact of our actions to either understand the past or, more importantly, shape the future.

    Of vital importance for a leadership team is to find a common way to communicate about your numbers. Too often there is a disconnect between finance, operations, and strategic leadership. This disconnect will sub-optimize a company’s results.

    How can you maximize what you are delivering to the market? Not all products and services are created equally. One basic strategy I have used is to simply make a 2×2 matrix that illustrates the relationship between new/existing customers and new/existing services or products. You then engage your team in a discussion about not only how the numbers bear out this decision, but other key factors such as the current contextual features of the customer market, supply issues, labor issues, and your current capacity to execute in any given quadrant.

    Ask your team, “Do we want to provide more of the same services to the same customers? What is the advantage of finding new customers for our existing products?” Moving to another section on the diagram, “What have we been sitting on, waiting to unleash to the market? What new services can we offer our existing customers?”

    Some of these answers are considered, shopping in your own closet. What opportunities do we have right in front of us? What are the needs of our current customers that if we meet them offer new revenue streams or increased profit margins?

    Of vital importance, however, is knowing the costs and margins of every service and product that falls within each quadrant of that 2×2 matrix. If you don’t, you could select to double down on your least profitable service.

    Kirsten Yurich is a former CEO and current Vistage Chair. As a clinician, professor, author, and executive, she leverages this unique blend and creates learning environments for executives to become better leaders, spouses, and parents.

    Mike Thorne

    Business growth, revenue growth, profit increase, sales increase/growth concept

    I like defining what working smarter means to me. It requires a delicate balancing act of “driving revenue” (increasing the amount of money generated through sales and customer acquisition to increase top line and market share) and “optimizing profitability” (efficiency/effectiveness of operations—cost cutting, streamlining processes, and improving productivity).

    Sustainable and working smarter businesses do a great job embedding these three disciplines in their businesses vs. applying them when a crisis hits or issues occur.

    Cost Management – negotiating better deals with suppliers, optimizing inventory management, implementing energy-saving initiatives, or leveraging technology to automate tasks and improve operational efficiency.

    Pricing Strategies – Analyze and adjust pricing strategies to ensure they are aligned with market conditions and customer value perception. Consider factors such as production costs, competitor pricing, customer demand, and perceived value. Implementing dynamic pricing, bundling products or services, or offering tiered pricing options can help optimize profitability while remaining competitive.

    Enhance Customer Relationships – Focus on building and nurturing strong customer relationships to drive repeat business and increase customer lifetime value. Providing excellent customer service, personalizing interactions, and implementing loyalty programs can help retain existing customers and attract new ones. Additionally, understanding customer needs and preferences through market research and feedback can lead to targeted marketing efforts and product/service enhancements, ultimately boosting profitability.

    These disciplines need to be embedded in your organization and take time. Once you have concrete processes in place for the core business, it is advantageous to explore what opportunities exist for either new customers, new channels, or new products and services. I refer to these as value-added complexity ideas. What is value-added complexity? These are opportunities to leverage existing capabilities and competencies that will stretch the organization but not “ask” it to build something new from scratch.

    1. Customer Pain or Opportunity Points – What are your greatest ideas or challenges that they are looking for solutions to or to take advantage of their strengths? Are they core competencies that you have seen other customers solve or that you as an organization have dealt with before? They could be revenue drivers for you or simply ways for you to add value to the relationship. See yourself as a solution provider for your clients and watch opportunities come your way.

    2. Partnerships/Licensing/Private-Public Partnerships – Staying with your expertise and studying your clients and seeing where you both could grow together. Instead of being a customer/supplier relationship, what would a partnership look like?

    3. Retail 101 Techniques – Online and brick-and-mortar retailers alike think about three things all the time (driving our ticket, our traffic, and our conversion of that traffic). Look at your entire value chain and ask where could you drive more interest. Do your suppliers have customers you could do business with?

    I am confident by reimagining your relationships and value equation you will prosper, build sustainability by diversifying, and, ultimately, working smarter will lead to improved profitability and stickiness with customers.

    Mike Thorne is a former CEO and current Vistage Chair. He leads and facilitates a group of trusted advisor entrepreneurs and a CEO peer group in New Hampshire and Maine.

    Nora Taylor

    Financial team in a meeting about driving revenue and optimizing profitability

    Driving revenue and optimizing profitability are both important aspects of working smarter for sustainable growth in business. For long-term sustainable growth, they should be worked in tandem. There is no right answer; it is a tricky balancing act, maybe more art than science. However, your highest probability of success is when you begin with defined goals and plans that the team understands.

    Companies must focus on driving new opportunities and revenue growth if they want sustained growth—as long as costs are steady; it is difficult to sustain growth if costs are out of control. In my career, I admittedly would focus on profitability in the business development cycle upfront. I would ask the business development or sales team at the time considering an opportunity, “Why?”

    • Why this opportunity?
    • Is it aligned with our goals and strategic plan?
    • What value does it bring?
    • How is it helping us meet our objectives?

    Unless there was a compelling business case for going outside the typical profitability parameters established for the business, I tended to err on the conservative side, however, my background is in a more regulated environment.

    If there was a solid business case to drive revenue by taking a risk, then I believe you should be bold and take manageable risks. You will need to understand what your manageable risks are.

    Remember, working smarter for business growth requires a balanced approach between revenue generation and profitability optimization. Continuously assess and adjust your strategies based on market dynamics, customer feedback, and financial insights to ensure sustainable growth for your business.

    Nora Taylor helps CEOs and executives achieve success. As a Vistage Chair, she leads confidential peer advisory groups where the members work together to develop informed decision-making, improved judgment, and confident leadership.

    Mark Fackler

    Maximum revenue concept

    I have a bias. Though there is a balance between driving revenue and optimizing profit, the priority between the two is straightforward: driving revenue far outweighs optimizing profit. Public companies aside, I see this as a stepped approach: drive revenue first and foremost, and optimize profit only after the revenue machine is well tuned.

    But first, we must acknowledge that cash is everything. Cash is life. No cash. No company. Focusing on growing revenue is fine if you produce enough cash flow. Focusing on optimizing profit is fine if you produce enough cash flow.

    Back to the question at hand, under most circumstances, I believe growing revenue should be the higher priority. Plow as much as you can into sales, marketing, and infrastructure to grow revenue. Let cash flow be your throttle. Growth takes investments. Just like a tree that needs water, nutrients, and sun, companies need sales, marketing, and infrastructure.

    Though I stated that optimizing profit comes after the revenue machine is well tuned, that does not mean that money should be wasted in this effort. Be prudent in your employee compensation. Be prudent in your vendor negotiations. Be prudent in your marketing campaigns. Make your investment decisions based on if the investment supports revenue growth either directly or indirectly. Remember, back-office investments in things like accounting, IT, and HR are absolutely necessary to support revenue growth.

    Because of my bias, I must conclude with this. Optimizing profit is important work as long as it does not jeopardize future revenue growth. Never stop growing.

    Mark Fackler is a retired CEO and currently leads the Vistage CEO group that he was a member of from 1991 to 2002. He is passionate about creating great ROI for his member CEOs.

    What’s your experience trying to balance driving revenue and optimizing profitability? Join the conversation inside Work It Daily’s Executive Program.

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  • A critical responsibility of an executive is to set up a proper budget for their organization. Setting a proper budget usually involves setting financial goals, identifying expenses and revenue streams, and creating a budget that helps drive business success. So, what are some practical strategies for creating and managing a successful budget?

    We recently asked our executives how they set up a proper budget.

    Here are their responses…

    Ana Smith, Talent Architect & Global Learning Strategist

    As an executive, setting up a proper budget is a critical responsibility that requires careful planning, analysis, and monitoring. Here are some steps to consider when setting up a proper budget:

    1. Define your financial goals: Before setting up a budget, you need to define your financial goals and objectives. This will help you to prioritize your spending and identify areas where you need to cut costs.
    2. Estimate your revenue: Determine how much money your organization expects to generate in the upcoming period. This includes revenue from sales, investments, and other sources.
    3. Analyze your expenses: Identify all of the expenses that your organization will incur during the upcoming period. This includes fixed costs like rent and salaries, as well as variable costs like marketing and materials.
    4. Prioritize expenses: Once you have identified all of your expenses, prioritize them based on their importance to your organization’s success. This will help you to allocate resources more effectively and avoid overspending.
    5. Allocate resources: After prioritizing your expenses, allocate resources to each category based on their importance. This will help you to ensure that you are spending money where it is needed most.
    6. Monitor and adjust: Once your budget is in place, it is important to monitor your actual expenses and revenue against your budgeted amounts. This will allow you to identify any discrepancies and make adjustments as necessary.

    In summary, setting up a proper budget requires careful planning, analysis, and monitoring. By following these steps, you can ensure that your organization’s financial resources are allocated effectively and efficiently.

    Ana Smith helps people & organizations achieve their full talent potential by developing and co-creating people strategies and customized solutions, and turning them into impactful outcomes and collaborative relationships, using coaching as the “red thread.”

    Michael Willis, Sports Business Operations Executive

    Budget, finance, business concept

    I love the time of the year when it’s time to work on the upcoming year’s budget at the NFL.

    For me, the budget is a living and breathing document. You just don’t put in all the effort to file the budget in the filing cabinet once approved. More on that later.

    I have a process that I follow every year. I keep a folder with all the notes and conversations that I had to build the budget. I keep various budget versions as I move to the final approved budget.

    My budget process goes as follows:

    1. Current Year Actual

    The current year’s actual P&L numbers will be my basis for the upcoming budget cycle.

    I go to each department head in our group and ask them if they have anything they want to buy or change that they didn’t do this season. Also, I will ask if they have any one-offs that won’t be done after the season ends.

    2. Game and Replay Officials – (CBA) Collective Bargaining Agreement

    Seventy-six percent of the Football Operations budget is covered by the Game and Replay Officials’ salaries and travel expenses agreed upon in a seven-year agreement between the NFL and the Officials’ Union.

    So, I only have control of 24% of the Football Operations budget.

    3. VP & Finance Review

    This is when I sit with my boss and Finance to make any adjustments, then move to the approval of the budget.

    4. VP & Commissioner Review

    After Finance approves the budget, my boss sits with the NFL Commissioner on what the department wants to do in the upcoming year.

    The Commissioner doesn’t have the time to go through the entire budget page by page. So, I draw up a “one-page” report. This is a simple one-pager with one number at the top of the page, representing the current year’s “actual” spend. In the middle of the page are the budget changes for the upcoming year. At the bottom is the total budget for the upcoming year.

    5. Finally, the Living and Breathing Part

    Now that I have a final version budget in my hands, I will bring life to the budget by calendarizing the budget. That means I will spread the budget over twelve months, showing when to spend the money. That means I can discuss how we are pacing every month or quarterly, from budget to actual.

    Michael Willis has 18+ years of experience working with accounting & sports organizations and has managed P&Ls of $10M – $125M+ with budgets of $3M-$50M+. He worked for the NFL for 22 1/2 years, mainly with the game officials working on the financial/accounting side of the business.

    Lisa Perry, Global Marketing Executive

    Marketing executive sets up the marketing budget

    As a brand marketing executive, a well-planned marketing budget is critical to strategically allocating resources, outlining a successful marketing strategy, maximizing return on investment (ROI), and effectively reaching your target audience. Creating a marketing budget may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are six steps to help you set up a marketing budget that aligns with your goals and drives tangible results:

    1. Define Marketing Goals & Objectives: Before diving into budget planning, clearly define SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) marketing goals and objectives. For example, what are you looking to do? Increase brand awareness or consideration, generate leads or conversion, drive loyalty or advocacy? Understanding your objectives will guide your budget allocation decisions and ensure your marketing efforts align with your business goals.

    2. Conduct Analysis & Research: Analyze historical marketing data and conduct research that will provide valuable insights for budget planning. Evaluate the performance of past marketing campaigns, identify successful strategies, and pinpoint areas for improvement. Additionally, research market trends, customer behavior, and competitor activities to make informed budgetary decisions.

    3. Develop a Marketing Plan: Develop a marketing plan with strategies and tactics aligning with your goals and objectives. Part of the planning includes researching the costs of the various marketing tactics. This is when you can determine which budget line item you want to include, how much money you want to allocate, and when you plan to spend it.

    4. Estimate Marketing Costs: When submitting your marketing budget estimates for approval, it is crucial to accurately forecast how much you anticipate spending, as once approved, these estimates become your budget. Research industry benchmarks, obtain vendor quotes, and consult with your team to accurately estimate the costs involved.

    5. Develop a Marketing Budget: Set a realistic marketing budget considering your financial resources, revenue projections, and the estimated costs of executing your marketing campaign. Strive for a balance between ambition and realism to ensure you have sufficient funds to support your activities throughout the budget period.

    6. Monitor & Adjust: Regularly monitor and evaluate the performance of your marketing activities to ensure your budget is being utilized effectively. Track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as conversion rates, cost per lead, and customer acquisition. Identify areas that require adjustments or optimization. You can optimize your budget allocation for maximum impact by staying agile and responsive to data-driven insights.

    Setting up a proper marketing budget requires careful planning, data analysis, and an understanding of your business goals. Then, you can create a budget that drives measurable results, strengthens your brand, and propels your business toward success.

    Lisa Perry helps companies build leadership brands, driving loyal customers & delivering profitability. She does this through a process that builds brands consumers love. Her goal is to help companies develop, monetize, and grow their brands.

    How do you set up a proper budget? Join the conversation inside Work It Daily’s Executive Program.

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  • I would never have guessed that my maritime shipping and Naval Intelligence background would become helpful in the financial services realm—yet here we are. Let me explain…

    “We’re Bankers, Not SEAL Team Six.”

    Financial Institution concept

    “We’re bankers, not SEAL Team Six. Are we really expected to start analyzing ship behavior?” This quote from a colleague in a discussion about the idea of Financial Institutions (FIs) monitoring the behavior of ocean-going vessels (ships) motivated me to co-author a white paper on the topic.

    Today’s global geopolitical climate is fraught with both nation-states and individual bad actors who use the financial system to conduct their misdeeds. While sanctions can be an effective tool to shut these bad actors out of the financial system, it is far from a panacea. Necessity has become the proverbial mother of invention for bad actors in creating methods to circumvent sanctions and international laws. The typologies range from turning off their safety position reporting to pretending to be a different vessel altogether.

    Government Guidance

    U.S. Department of Treasury

    In May 2020, the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury and the U.S. Coast Guard published “Guidance to Address Illicit Shipping and Sanctions Evasion Practices.” The guidance document provides information targeted for specific stakeholders—one of which is Financial Institutions (FIs). This was a seminal moment. For the first time, FIs were mentioned in government guidance on detecting potentially unusual ocean-going vessel behavior.

    Governments recognize the challenge of keeping abreast of the methods of evading laws and impose various regulations on private sector stakeholders to detect and deter nefarious activity. The trend has undoubtedly been government regulators requiring more of Financial Institutions (FIs) compliance measures, not less. U.S. regulators are particularly demanding of FIs in this regard. Whether or not the regulations are reasonable is irrelevant. Once imposed, FIs must find ways to comply.

    Why Focus On Transportation?

    International cargo ships at sunset

    The sale of commodities is almost invariably accompanied by the need to transport the goods to their destination. It is this transportation element that regulators have recently turned their attention to. This attention is now buoyed by the need to detect the illicit transfer of bulk commodities, such as Russian oil, in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

    The complexities of trade finance, global supply chains, and the various roles of FIs in a trade transaction can make this a daunting task. This realization motivated me to co-author a white paper on the topic through the Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (BAFT). The paper published by BAFT in early December 2022 is entitled “Perspectives on Evaluating Potentially Unusual Vessel Behavior.” My maritime shipping experience served me exceptionally well in this endeavor.

    Understanding The Fundamentals

    Man holding papers reads something on his laptop

    While banks offering trade finance products likely have a working knowledge of shipping documentation, staff may need to become more familiar with the maritime shipping industry details. This can pose challenges when shipments or transactions are flagged as unusual and compliance issues arise. The paper aims to provide bankers with a rudimentary understanding of maritime shipping and the compliance risk associated with this space. It accomplishes its objective by organizing the material in a methodical fashion meant to be read from beginning to end. The paper begins by familiarizing the reader with basic maritime shipping industry jargon and practices. For example, did you know ships have an identification number that never changes (think of your car’s VIN) even after being sold or renamed? It then lists the most common typologies for vessels evading sanctions, ways to evaluate your FI’s inherent risk, and several considerations when developing appropriate controls for your organization.

    My co-authors and I spent hours discussing (which at times pivoted to spirited debate) certain portions of the material. We endeavored to strike the right balance for reasonable measures to evaluate vessel behavior for FIs with varying resources available to Financial Crime Compliance departments. I believe the many hours of Zoom call discussions paid off in the form of a handy white paper for FIs in addressing this evolving risk.

    To read “Perspectives on Evaluating Potentially Unusual Vessel Behavior,” please visit BAFT’s Library of Documents under BAFT Guidance and Industry Practice section at www.BAFT.org.

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  • Affirm is a growing company that has fully embraced the remote-first work environment. Job seekers looking to be a part of building a remote-first culture may find working at Affirm to be an intriguing option.

    Here is some information about Affirm’s mission and available opportunities.

    How Affirm Accomplishes Its Mission

    Affirm is a financial technology company that operates as a financial lender of installment loans for consumers to use at the point of sale to finance a purchase.

    Those that have an Affirm account can shop online and then use their Affirm accounts at checkout to pay instead of a credit card. From there, the customer works out a payment schedule with Affirm and then pays off the purchase with monthly payments. Annual percentage rates (APR) can range from 0-30% based on an individual’s credit.

    Affirm’s promise to customers is that the company is always transparent with no late fees, compounding interest, or hidden fees, and the customer will always know exactly what they owe. Affirm also works with multiple businesses and has partnerships with Walmart, Delta Vacations, and Peloton, to name a few.

    Affirm currently has over 6.2M consumers in the U.S. and is available at checkout at over 6,500 merchants.

    How To Determine If Working At Affirm Is Right For You


    Reply to @itssangmarie 170+ work from home jobs hiring! #career #learnontiktok #jobtips #hiring #remote

    Affirm switched to a remote-first workplace as a way to attract a wider scope of talent. The company also allows for office work at its headquarters in San Francisco and offices in Chicago, New York City, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, and Toronto.

    Affirm could be a great opportunity for job seekers who share the company’s values of simplifying finance, or for anyone who just loves finding creative ways to improve people’s lives.

    Affirm has career opportunities available in the following departments:

    • Applied Machine Learning
    • Capital Markets
    • Client Success
    • Commercial
    • Compliance
    • Design & User Experience
    • Engineering
    • Finance
    • Growth Analytics
    • Legal
    • Marketing
    • Operations
    • People
    • Product
    • Sales

    3 Things To Know About Working At Affirm

    Affirm is growing its workforce.

    Incredible Fact: Affirm Offers Modern Benefits For A Modern Workforce

    Making the change to a remote-first workforce was more than just simply allowing employees to work from anywhere. Affirm went all in on this change, which included a drastic shift in the benefits the company offers to employees.

    Affirm’s Chief People Officer Jude Komuves outlined these changes in a December 2020 LinkedIn article.

    First, Affirm created a flexible and transparent remote-first compensation structure to ensure that employees have the ability to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. The new compensation structure aligns to a state’s highest-paid major city, metro, or state average, determined by using cost of labor data. A salary adjustment is made based on how much lower labor costs are compared to San Francisco.

    Healthcare – Affirm offers three generous health plans, two of which are fully covered by Affirm with no additional out-of-pocket premium costs. The company also expanded access to mental healthcare to include dependents. Affirmers and their dependents receive six complimentary virtual visits per year, and the option to purchase additional sessions thereafter.

    Paternity leave – The company extended its paternity leave policy to include an 18-week leave for birth and non-birth parents, and the company has a dedicated Parents@ community group that offers support to parents and caregivers at Affirm through community, education, and advocacy.

    Spending wallets – Employees get a series of digital stipends that are appropriate for the remote work life, including:

    • Technology wallet: $200/month to offset some of the monthly costs associated with home office expenses
    • Food wallet: $220/month to ensure access to favorite meal and snack options throughout the day
    • Lifestyle wallet: $250/month to support holistic wellness and growth
    • S.A.F.E. Journey wallet: $20,000 lifetime wallet to support Affirmers in family planning needs including surrogacy, adoption, fertility, and egg freezing.
    Holidays & paid time off – Affirm increased the number of holidays from 7 to 24 paid days when offices will be closed and Affirmers will not be required to log on for work. This guarantees at least one three-day weekend per month. This is in addition to the company’s flexible time-off policy.

    What Others Are Saying About Affirm

    Affirm has a 3.8/5 culture score on employee review website Comparably, while company leadership earned an A+ grade.

    “Opportunities to have impact in my role and autonomy to take on projects that are outside the scope of my day-to-day. I feel empowered to show up and contribute towards projects that make work fulfilling to me,” one employee wrote in a Glassdoor review.

    Affirm was recognized by tech website Built In as a “Best Place to Work Remote First” in 2021. Affirm also received previous recognition from Forbes as a “Disruptive Innovator” and LinkedIn as a “Top Startup.”

    Quick Facts About Affirm

    • Affirm has multiple Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and community groups where employees of similar backgrounds, cultures, and interests can come together. These groups help establish programs and policies within the company that help with Affirm’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. Affirm also publishes an annual report online with its demographics and diversity goals.
    • The University Program at Affirm gives interns and recent grads hands-on experience that can help them launch careers. Past participants have built a real-time data processing pipeline, developed an extensive automated testing framework, and helped build out Affirm’s proprietary financial platform, according to the company’s website.

    Career Opportunities At Affirm 

    Are you interested in working at Affirm? Check out the company’s careers page to learn more and view current openings.

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