Warning: Sell Wine? Ignore Cash? Adios!

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Why is this so hard? We find ourselves entrenched in the quagmire of a lingering and painful recession … more companies than ever need stronger financial management … and yet so many of them remain painfully slow to recognize it. Sure, many have trimmed costs and are paying closer attention to nickels and dimes, but few of them have a comprehensive financial strategy.

Business Finance? Meet the Wine Industry!

So, in some misguided way, I guess it feels good to have some company … because the need for financial discipline was a common refrain among wine industry cognoscenti at this year’s Symposium, Competing in a Rapidly Changing Global Wine Market. The economic shock waves of the last 24 months have rocked the wine industry, dragging many of its members, in some cases kicking and screaming … into an era where professional management and greater financial discipline are demanding front row seats alongside the entrepreneurs and artisans that have reigned over the California wine industry
[pullquote]Stronger financial management is overdue in the California wine industry.[/pullquote]

Building a bridge between the financial community and the wine industry is one of the founding precepts of the Wine Industry Financial Symposium formed in 1992. Last Monday, I was privileged to lead a 90 minute workshop devoted to Practical Strategies to Improve Cash Flow, in which I shared a few “diamonds in the rough” about how to get more juice into your bank account … and how the California wine businesses can integrate Strategic Finance into their everyday business decision making.

Wine, Wisdom and Stronger Finance. Drink up!

During the preceding From Survival to Prosperity – Strategies for Transition session, Jeff Gutsch, a partner who leads the Wine Industry practice at Moss Adams, LLP, moderated a panel of experienced wine industry professionals who got the afternoon workshops off to a great start. The panel discussed a variety of strategies for success in the wine industry, and while extolling the entrepreneurial spirit that spawned the wine industry in Northern California, frequently returned to the need for more professional management … explaining that the industry needed to “grow up” to succeed in the increasingly competitive global wine market.

Tim Allen, an industry veteran who served in senior finance capacities for 4 wineries that were sold during his career, and now runs his own boutique accounting service in Napa, emphasized many of the same themes that I discussed in my workshop … that sound financial principles are a critical component of success in the wine industry. Keith Wesselchmidt of Bacchus Capital Management and Mark Brody of Umpqua Bank echoed those observations, calling for business owners to develop stronger financial controls and rely upon strong professional relationships to build their businesses.

Do you think your business needs a stronger financial foundation … and if so, what are you doing about it?

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