DIGITALKAUFMANN

DIGITAL ENTREPRENEUR HAMBURG

Controlling Archive

Donnerstag

27

Juli 2017

0

COMMENTS

Controlling im digitalen Zeitalter

Written by , Posted in Kaufmann

Im spannenden Podcast-Gespräch zwischen Alexander Graf und Florian Heinemann auf Kassenzone.de wird ein interessanter Punkt genannt: Florian geht darauf ein, dass bei digitalen Firmen eine neue Art des „Controlling“ für Konzerne notwendig ist. Hier führt er das Beispiel AboutYou an und macht deutlich, dass Konzerne für digitale „Start-Ups“ bzw. für digitale Geschäftsmodelle eine neue Art des Controllings entwerfen müssen. Hier stellt sich die Frage, wie dieses neue „Controlling“ denn aussehen sollte und was mit der alten Art des Controllings jetzt falsch läuft. (mehr …)

Sonntag

25

Januar 2015

0

COMMENTS

Interview bei Shopanbieter.de – Kennzahlen im digitalen Unternehmen

Written by , Posted in Kaufmann

ControllingNeben einem sehr spannenden Artikel von Netshops über Tambini als Content- und Commerce-Plattform und ebenfalls einem Artikel von eTribes Partner Stefan Grimm (Gründer Restposten.de) mit guten Hinweisen für Einkäufer und Nachbesteller zum Thema „Typen und Ziele der Sortimentssteuerung“, gibt es in der neuen Ausgabe von Shopanbieter auch ein Interview mit mir zum Thema Kennzahlen in digitalen Unternehmen. Ich freue mich über Leser und natürlich viele Kommentare zum Thema.

Dienstag

18

November 2014

0

COMMENTS

Digitalisierung = Zentralisierung – wie sollen Konzerne agieren?

Written by , Posted in Kaufmann

Vor einiger Zeit habe ich einen spannenden Artikel von Johnson & Johnson als Veröffentlichung bei McKinsey gelesen. Hier beschreibt die Autorin, Gail Horwood – VP of worldwide digital strategy bei Johnson & Johnson – ihre Erfahrung bei der „Digitalisierung“ eines dezentral aufgestellten Konzerns. Ihre Erfahrungen überschneiden sich sehr mit den täglichen Problemen, die wir bei eTribes sehen. Viele Konzerne mit einem Brand Portfolio haben über Jahrzehnte einen internen „Wettbewerb“ zwischen den Brands entwickelt. (mehr …)

Donnerstag

26

Juni 2014

1

COMMENTS

Wie messe ich Erfolg im eCommerce?

Written by , Posted in Handel

Young business man looking at sketches of graphs and symbolsEine der Nebenwirkungen des immer ausgeprägteren Heinemann Kegels in der digitalen Wirtschaft ist der zunehmende Fokus auf Daten getriebene, analytische Methoden um in jedem Segment des Kegels erfolgreich zu sein. In dieser Woche habe ich mir einige E-Mail Marketing Tools genau angeschaut und durch meine Arbeit mit Facelift, Netshops oder auch Launchwerk bin ich vertraut mit Facebook Marketing, SEO/SEM, Shop Technologien und technischen Eigenschaften von Eigenentwicklungen. In jedem dieser Bereiche muss man mittlerweile 100% Experte sein, um auch nur mit dem Markt mit zu halten. Die Zeiten des informierten Generalisten sind auf jeden Fall vorbei. Wie steuert man aber denn nun eCommerce Modelle? Geschäftsführer und Controller können sich sehr leicht im Kennzahlendschungel des eCommerce verlaufen und sich zu sehr auf einen Kanal fokussieren. Vielleicht ist ihr Geschäftsmodell zur Zeit abhängig vom E-Mail Marketing und sie kennen viele Kennzahlen dort , doch eigentlich müssten sie gerade dann von diesem Marketing Kanal zu Facebook wechseln. Wie also behalte ich den Überblick? (mehr …)

Dienstag

30

Juli 2013

0

COMMENTS

Digital Capital – new accounting approach needed.

Written by , Posted in Allgemein

AssetsHere a true eCFO topic – accounting! Before you stop reading –  this is really important – so stay with me. I first picked up on the topic when I started working with our Facebook agency on their generic group concept.  By now we have over 1 million fans in general Facebook groups that we „rent“ out to clients in order to advertise to a specific target segment. I argued back and forth with our accountant that the capital we invested is in fact not a period expense in our P&L but that we are actually building a long-term asset that should show up on our balance sheet. I lost the argument but still know that I am right – just our accountings standards have not yet caught up with the „digital revolution“. Now McKinsey seems to agree – the consultancy published a new story that focuses on „digital capital“ (LINK)

In their conclusion they highlight that even though accounting has not caught up – companies need to act now and explain to investors that they are building assets even if their balance sheet does not reflect it (yet). Capital allocation needs to be quickly adjusted in almost all industries to catch up with changes brought by the rapidly developing digitalization:

„The need for growth and competitiveness will force companies to build strong digital capabilities. Viewing them as assets rather than additional areas of spending requires a new set of management and financial lenses. Embracing them is a major shift—but one worth making for companies striving to master a still-evolving landscape.“

They continue to highlight that companies really need to focus on collecting and analyzing data from their activities. The digital development combined with big-data analysis capabilities offers new business opportunities but also threatens established players that are to slow to react.

„Since identifying intangible assets is difficult, companies may be missing growth opportunities. Many have realized only recently that they can use social-media interactions with their best customers to leverage innovation efforts or that they may have unused data they could restructure into valuable big-data assets to sharpen business strategy. Similarly, companies should take stock of how digital capital they don’t own may be relevant to the business. A retailer that doesn’t have access to digital behavioral data on consumers, for example, may be at a disadvantage. So could a bank whose customers access products through a third-party platform that limits the bank’s ability to capture information.“

So what now? We need better accounting methods that reflect the real value of digital capital allocation but this is not going to happen quickly. eCFOs will need to do a much better job explaining to markets, shareholders and capital providers how they are planning to make money due to their digital capital investment. Financial statements will again become more irrelevant for company valuations and future earnings expectations.

Donnerstag

4

April 2013

0

COMMENTS

Due diligence – what is important for digital acquisitions?

Written by , Posted in Financing

Over the last month we have supported a wide range of acquisitions in Germany with eTribes. On the one hand we have worked with our clients to identify targets on the other hand we are constantly asked to evaluate business ideas by VC/angle investors or by entrepreneurs who are looking for feedback. In addition, we also have to work with the CEOs of our equity participations to create new business models and to react to a digital environment that has really picked up speed. Through these various mandates and evaluations a range of points have come up again and again – so I am now publishing a quick summary. I am hoping that some of it will save me from hearing the same catch phrases over and over again e.g. if I had a dime  for every time a marketing plan consist of „it will go viral“  I could probably buy Apple.

Team

Probably one of the most overused catch phrases is „team is everything“ but again it is absolutely true. Give me an A team with a B idea anytime over a B team with an A idea. Therefore, we pay  lot of attention to the skill set of the founds and team – are they complementary? Can they cover the entire needed range from business skills to online marketing expertise? Will they be good at sales? How do they deal with stress? How well do they talk to investors? Here, we do not only look for solid CV credentials but also talk to people they have worked with in the past to get a good understanding of the work they have done historically.

Additionally, I would argue that not only having a certain skill set is key but that implementation trumps credentials every time. What do I mean by that – some people will have worked in corporates and gained substantial experience in a field (on paper) without ever actually doing the work. Supervising an add agency that prepares an online campaign is not the same as running your own web project with a marketing campaign you have to set-up and optimize. Often people will be surprised by the difficulty that is in between theoretically understanding a concept and implementing it.

Customer Acquisition Cost

This key variable is often connected to the marketing section shown below. 9 out of 10 entrepreneurs we talk with have not thought scalability and customer acquisition cost through. Every time we are surprised by this – online business models collect an amazing amount of data and so determining a rough estimate of customer acquisition cost very early one is not very hard. How much does it take to get a customer to buy your product? How often do you need to be in contact before a purchase is made and what does each contact cost? How often will your customer come back e.g. what is your customer lifetime value? I do not expect to get a formula that is absolutely correct but I do expect the entrepreneur to have thought about this!

Marketing (Viral does not work!)

Marketing is expensive. Even in times where zalando clearly spends millions and millions on advertising most business models still think that if there product is strong enough customers will just be running through the (non existent) doors of their website. Here we most often see horribly wrong assumptions about marketing costs. These days it is incredibly hard (and expensive!!!) to differentiate yourself online and to get a customers attention long enough to place your product. There are very few viral models that have worked historically and generally these work only in the United States and not in Europe.

An accumulation of hype phrases is not a business model

Oh my – have you seen my newest mobile optimized app that through geo location really adds value in the social media space through its gaming characteristics … 🙂 Going to a digital conference and adding all the seminar titles together does not create a business. Where is the differentiating value? How do you plan to make money? How do you acquire your customers? What problem do you solve? These are questions that are not answered through hype phrases but through well thought out business plans!

Money & Billing 

So often I see entrepreneurs who sit here and tell me that they have already several very happy customers – my next questions always is: great, what is your revenue? Unbelievably enough I often get the reply: well we are using a freemium model and are not actually charging anything. If you do not value your product enough to charge money for it, why would or even should your customer value it? How honest is feedback for something you get for free? Make money right from the start – get a billing system and send out invoices!

Hockey Stick (but only in sales)

Never missing is the famous hockey stick for sales projections – customers will love the product after 6 months and make you rich. Unfortunately, lots of business plans show this trend but neglect to create a sensible cost to revenue ration. I do not believe that you can either increase revenue by 10x without hiring additional people nor do I think that additional people will not need new / bigger office space etc. Often business plans will have a strong cost /revenue correlation for 6-12 months and in month 18 show entirely surreal ratios.

Team

Is key! So here it is a second time 🙂

Montag

3

Dezember 2012

0

COMMENTS

Google Analytics Summit Hamburg

Written by , Posted in Strategy

Last week the first German Google Analytics Summit took place in Hamburg (http://www.analytics-summit.de). Certainly, a must-attend event for the online marketing crowd but for eCFOs, controller and such this event should have been a must-attend as well.

I was astonished when Moritz Habermann, senior key account manager at Google, asked whether there were any controllers present. Out of 350 attendees none raised their hand – so nobody from the financial analysis side was present. This is a huge mistake. Google is at its hard a data collection and analysis company that has many uses for financial focused employees. No longer can data sources like Google be for “marketing & sales” only. I really liked what Moritz continued to say – he mentioned the difference between financial KPIs and KPIs collected by Google Analytics and similar tools. The difference is that financial KPIs show success/failure at the end of the month/year but that non-financial data allows for day-to-day monitoring and steering of the business.

He still portrayed financial and non-financial data points as separate things but in reality they are the two sides of the same coin. It is essential to combine these data points! Google Analytics or other tools such as the Track Board from Trakken (http://www.trakken.de/) are great tools for an eCFO.  A business analyst should focus on displaying non-financial and financial KPIs in such a fashion that a business can be monitored, steered and managed by just looking at a single dashboard.

I am excited to see the next conference and I hope that more finance guys will start focusing on Google analytics and other web tools.

Montag

1

Oktober 2012

0

COMMENTS

The Homer … not only for cartoons and e-commerce…

Written by , Posted in Allgemein

Alex recently introduced „the Homer“ as a concept where features aka bells and whistles are more important than actual customer value (www.kassenzone.de) . Jochen picked up the topic in his blog as well (http://www.excitingcommerce.de/2012/09/der-homer.html). He is even asking for „The Homer of the Week“ to show that this is unfortunately not a rare event.

For me this is also extremely relevant while managing a start-up from a financial perspective – instituting wonderful time tracking, controlling and analysis tools too often focuses on finding the perfect tool and not getting the best results. For a start-up, or for that matter for any company, any internal system should always be carefully looked at to see whether it adds real value or is just a wonderful „Homer“ for the project team, management and other stakeholders.

Donnerstag

27

September 2012

1

COMMENTS

Preemptive obedience … or focusing on the right thing at the right time…

Written by , Posted in Allgemein

I just had a very interesting discussion with one of our CEOs. In essence it involved a heated debate on what to do with substantial accumulated funds of one of our portfolio businesses. Invest, save or distribute to shareholders – for me it was clear that a start-up needs to heavily invest if it sees an opportunity. Screw security, savings or distribution of returns! This often means taking on a substantial amount of risk and not focusing on those things that would be dear to a prudent eCFO. The CEO was totally surprised to hear that from me and said “that goes against everything you told us before. You made us focus on liquidity, told us we needed 3 month working capital in the bank and were not allowed to spend any money on stuff you considered not absolutely essential.”

This clearly showed me the danger of over emphasizing certain points.

Just because I firmly believe that liquidity is the one and only important measure for a start-up does not mean that once the business is generating cash it should not be re-invested. It also does not mean that I would suggest that savings and reserves should always be the right way to go. Each measure ALWAYS needs to be adopted to the environment it is applied to! Risks need to be taken once it has been sufficiently analyzed and understood – start-ups depend on the risk taking ability of its management.

For me this is an important lesson that as an eCFO you have to continuously further the education and situational awareness of your team and the people you work with. Never assume that people will understand that each measure is only applied for a certain period of a business lifecycle. It also means that I need to improve my communication in regards to a healthy balance between risky and risk adverse behavior.

Freitag

20

Juli 2012

0

COMMENTS

FolienKnecht – a case study (b)

Written by , Posted in Strategy

Business model testing (Is it profitable? Is it scalable?)

Regular checks are important for a start-up. Have your previously set goals been reached and if so, can the business be scaled further? We usually measure the scalability by starting with relatively small trial cases that cover a broad range of marketing measures. Can we generate sales through Google Adwords, mailings, e-mail marketing, tele-marketing, direct marketing events or any other method? If there are a couple of measures that allow us to generate sales with a positive return e.g. if we spend 50 cents we can generate 51 cents in revenue we know that this potentially could allow the business to scale. Once we have found a method that seems to work, we scale the test case – if we can generate EUR10,000 in revenue by spending EUR500 through adwords, could we also generate revenue of EUR100,000? As an eCFO you need to push this test case as quickly as possible to make sure that the business model actually is sustainable and has significant revenue potential. If not – kill it quickly.

eCFO Tips: Make sure that management teams can differentiate between expenses and investments. In our company everybody gets a VOIP phone installed on their computer and uses a headset for calls. We do not have actual phones anymore. Nevertheless, the FolienKnecht team requested to spend EUR40 for an actual phone – it took a long discussion for them to convince me that this was a necessary expense and approval took a while. At the same time I suggested that they should get together with the city of Hamburg and sponsor a networking event. Sponsoring fees here were a small 4 digit amount and they asked why I did not have a problem with such a comparatively large amount, versus all the hassle for the EUR40 phone. The answer is easy – for a start-up it is essential to spend money on the RIGHT things not on those that are nice to have. As an eCFO it is your responsibility to ensure that this principal is actually enforced and that every expenditure is measured.

Event overview!

Investments and financing

I admit – this is a special case since FolienKnecht is a services business, a powerpoint designer, which can grow through its own cash flow generation ability. Therefore, I just needed to make sure that I fully understood the cost structure and what was needed to bring the business to break even cash flow generation without raising significant capital. As with most agencies it is possible to grow with this easy formula: “one employee needs to generate enough cash to pay the salary of two, two for four, four for eight and soon growth is possible”. In addition, your cost structure will mostly consist of salaries and some marketing investment but both cost items should quickly generate revenue. What is more important is that you create structures that are highly efficient and streamlined for cash generation.

For any other type of venture that require significant start-up capital I would suggest that you calculate your financial needs, then add 30% of that total to your numbers and you are good to go. Once you have determined your financial needs, raise a little bit of capital yourself and build a prototype. Investors are much more likely to give you money (even for a higher valuation) if you can show them a working prototype vs. a slide presentation with nice ideas on it.

Overall, I hope that these posts provided some operational examples of how to implement the measures I described in previous posts. As always I am looking forward to receive your feedback and comments!