Here it is: The best single piece of business advice ever

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06/24/2010

Actually, the headline on this blog is a bit misleading. What I've got here are the two single best pieces of business advice ever, and there will be more to come.

Earlier this week, I sent out the following email to all the speakers who will be at this year's HME News Business Summit, Sept. 12-14, in Nashville: "In 100-150 words, please explain the best single piece of business advice you’ve ever received or heard. It can relate to any facet of running a business, but it’s got to be something that really resonated with you—and that is still a guiding principle/belief today."

The speakers at this year's Summit are as good as they come. They are smart, successful and have tons of business experience. So I figured their answers to this question would be interesting and valuable to all HME providers. This is also a nice snapshot of the kind of high-quality education you'll find at the Business Summit. Here are the first two submissions:

Janice S Ahlstrom, CPHIMS, RN, partner/Wipfli LLP

When I was in nursing school, an instructor, Jean Wanderer, told us numerous times that in our careers we would be forced to make gray, ethical calls on how to best handle a situation. Her sage advice was to "do what the prudent nurse would do."  This message has stuck with me for all 29 years of my career as a nurse, then as a clinical systems manager, and now as a consulting partner.  I have been presented with many challenging situations over the years, and so many times I have heard Jean's voice whispering to me, "Do what the prudent nurse would do." Prudent by definition is careful, cautious, discreet, sensible, practical, wise and far sighted.  Much of my success in business is the result of making prudent decisions based on careful analysis and just being practical—no fairy dust, just prudent thinking and actions.

Scott Lloyd, Extrakare LLC

In a changing business environment, managers often blame poor financial performance on "outside influences" like lower reimbursement rates, new competitors, costs associated with accreditation, etc. But managers have a responsibility to make the tough decisions required to improve the financial performance of their business regardless of outside influences. Benchmarking is key to achieving that goal, but many managers don't understand the process. In short, benchmarks are guides to the annual budgeting process. They must be updated when there is a major change to the business (such as when you exit an entire business segment). They also help remove emotion from making business decisions. Benchmarks are not the same as an operating budget and should not be changed annually. Nor are they the highest achievable performance level. Finally, benchmarks are useless unless employees are aware of them and understand how their actions impact the performance of the business relative to the benchmarks.

As more "best business advice ever" submissions come in from Business Summit speakers, I'll share them with you through my blog. We'll also run some of them in our August and September issues. Remember, these are just snapshots. If you want the big picture, you've got to come to the Summit. I promise: You won't regret it.

Mike Moran