Michael: Hello there. Welcome to the HaBO Village Podcast. I'm Michael Redman.
Kathryn: And I'm Kathryn Redman.
Michael: Today, we're going to talk about finances and numbers. I know it's boring. Oh, no, don't turn it off. Don't ignore us. We're going to try and make it interesting, tell a few stories. The goal here is just to continue to come back to the educational concept of, "How do you think about financials and reports in your company? How do you get the information you need so you can reduce your stress, increase your joy, and increase your profit?"
Michael: This is a big deal, and so many people are not equipped or trained, and even if you had a finance class or two in college, most small business owners are just like, "What do I do? How do I do this?" Then you hire an accountant, or you hire ... Maybe if you're big enough, you have a CFO full time, and you're dependent on trying to get what you need from them. This financial intelligence, as some people call it, is just low in most people's minds, especially small businesses, but you know what? It's low in corporate America too. Matter of fact, Harvard Business Review wrote an article in 2009, and from everything we can see and tell in the conversations we have with folks in finance, loans, banking, and stuff like that, it hasn't changed.
There was 4,000 people that were surveyed. They were given a 25-point question. These people all came from companies that were 150 employees or more.
Kathryn: So, pretty decent sized.
Michael: Decent size. People go, "Well, they must know what they're doing, and they must have enough money to do all this. They must have figured it all out." They asked the C-suite and directors and VPs and stuff like that, whatever was right underneath however the company articulated, 4,000 people in America. Their average financial intelligence score: 33%. 33%.
Kathryn: That's failing.
Michael: Kathryn and I were talking about-
Kathryn: Failing. Fail.
Michael: It's like 33%. Now, I'm going to make a confession. I have not been good at this over the years. This has been really hard for me, and even in the ... Kathryn does the accounting for us on a regular basis and billing and things like that, so she has a bit more of an understanding of it. She also sold software for an accounting firm years ago, before we started Half a Bubble Out, so she had a little bit of discussion there, but the idea that most people don't understand means there's a huge liability there in your effectiveness, and there's a huge opportunity for us to become that much more effective in producing a passion and provision company, a company with more profit and joy.
I don't know about you, but I want that. I want that on a regular basis, and I know that we talk about that here at HaBO Village Podcast all the time, but that's a big deal. I realized that even though I don't like finances, like most people ... Kathryn, do you like finances?
Kathryn: I do not.
Michael: Does not.
Kathryn: The last thing I ever wanted to do was be the person responsible for making sure everything happened in our company. It's like ...
Michael: Everything happened in our company.
Kathryn: Well, in the finances.
Michael: Yeah, yeah.
Kathryn: In the-
Michael: See how she just goes-
Kathryn: ... checks paid and the-
Michael: ... crazy, folks?
Kathryn: Okay. Shut up, you.
Michael: All right. But the reality is, is even though we don't like this, if we're going to become good at something and good at leading companies, leading your company and surviving, you want to beat the statistics. You want to beat the odds for failure.
Kathryn: And let's face it. 33% is a low bar, so we think you can do better.
Michael: It really is.
Kathryn: We believe in you.
Michael: Now, I am in the process of educating myself and learning, "What are the things I need to do and pay attention to?" I'm getting better at it. I've talked on this podcast about getting better at it, but I have a confession. I've debated on whether I was going to say this on the podcast or not, but I'm going to be vulnerable. I'm going to take a risk, and I'm going to say I took the test.
Kathryn: Dun, dun, dun.
Michael: I scored 55%.
Kathryn: Still a fail. It's still a fail.
Michael: It is. It is.
Kathryn: It's better than 33, though.
Michael: It is. I scored higher. Now, when I told one of my friends who is in finance, Mark [Miminik 00:04:23], who's been in economic development and business loans, business finance, for a long time ...
Kathryn: A long time.
Michael: I told him that. He was super stoked. He's like, "You're doing way better than most people out there." He's been at this for like 40 years.
Michael: I'm like, "Yeah, but that's just not okay." So, I'm doubling down, and there's a couple of things I'm going to do. Number one, I have a book that I'm going to recommend to you called Financial Intelligence by Karen Berman and Joe Knight. It'll be on our show notes page, but it's also published through Harvard Business Review Press. Financial Intelligence by Berman and Knight, Joe Knight, K-N-I-G-H-T. There are several books that they've written around this subject, one is for managers, and one is actually ... They wrote one that was angled a little bit more towards entrepreneurs, and I really recommend ... Both of them are great. The entrepreneur one I like because it talks to me more as a small business leader and stuff like that. If you've ever noticed, entrepreneur is not a word that's used for people who have large companies. They're executives. They're all these other things, but they're not entrepreneurs. I've decided entrepreneur is like one of those slang words for, "You have a small business."
Kathryn: And you might start another one soon, because you might be one of those-
Michael: You might be one of those-
Kathryn: ... serial entrepreneurs.
Michael: Right, like, "This one didn't work so well, so I'll go somewhere else, and I'll just keep figuring out if-"
Kathryn: Or this one did work, and I'm going to start another. It still-
Michael: That happens for some of us.
Kathryn: Still happens. Does happen.
Michael: Absolutely. It's sort of happening for us.
Kathryn: Sort of.
Michael: If you know us, we have Half a Bubble Out. If you listen to the podcast for any time, we have Rabbit Hole Hay, which sells hay to pet owners of pet rabbits, chinchillas, and guinea pigs.
Michael: It's in the pet space, pet food space, which is really a great space to be in, but there's a lot of lessons learned when you go into a new market, and that is growing phenomenally. We're going to talk a little bit about that today, because when you look at the numbers, there are two things that the numbers can really inform you of. The biggest thing you need is cash. Cash is king. Oh my goodness, cash is king. You can make a profit and not have cash. Did you know that?
Kathryn: Oh, I know it.
Michael: You know it.
Kathryn: I know it in the core muscle.
Michael: Those of you listening-
Kathryn: I know exactly what it means on paper to make a profit and yet go, "How come I don't have money?"
Michael: If you have some experience at this with a business or anything else, you know that pretty well, but it's amazing how some people ... those words get used synonymously, and they're not. Profit is something on a piece of paper in your books that says, "You sold X, and you sold it for more than that." Therefore, on paper, you've got a profit. Cash is when you actually have money in the bank.
Now, cash flow is a tricky term, and you'll hear that a lot. I think I would describe cash flow in two different forms. There is a more formal form, and then there is the more practical form. The more practical form is cash is the thing you get to use to buy products, buy resources, to pay the bills, to pay rent, pay [crosstalk 00:08:07]
Kathryn: And cash flow is about the timing of cash coming in and out of your company.
Michael: Do I have enough? Think about the water coming out of a garden hose. If it's turned on just a little bit, you only have a certain amount of water flow, and you may not have enough to fill up the bucket in time to spray the lawn, to wash the car, so you need more water flow. Think about every ounce of that water being cash. There's your cash flow. You have access to all this ... All this is reserved. It's yours on the books, but nobody's paid you yet. You need that cash flow.
Now, to some of you, that's just elementary, but I found out that over 60% of people in business actually don't even know that.
Michael: That's a surprise. But what can happen with this whole cash flow issue is you're trying to figure out how to predict what's happening, and there's two places. Either your company's not growing enough, and you're not bringing enough money in. You're not selling enough. There's not enough business.
Kathryn: Or you could have bad customers where you have a decent amount of AR, but they're not paying you-
Michael: You could.
Kathryn: ... also could create a cash flow issue.
Michael: It's kind of in the middle there, and then on the far extreme ... So, one extreme, the first extreme, is your company is either not growing at all, or it's actually shrinking, so you don't have enough sales coming in to cover everything. There is not profit on paper. You have slow customers that are slow in paying.
Kathryn: So, you've got profit on paper but no money in the bank.
Michael: But no money in the bank, because, wow, it's great. I own all this. You may have heard people say, "I'm asset rich and cash poor." This is what they mean. It's like, "I own all these homes, but I can't sell them." That happens in real estate a lot. "So, I don't have cash, and I can't pay the taxes because I have $10 million in assets, and I can't figure out how to turn any of it into cash to keep it," so taxes go bad. The other extreme is when your company is growing really, really, really fast.
Now, since the statistics say that within 10 years, roughly 85% to 95% of all companies fail. Those are conservative numbers. The aggressive numbers that a lot of people talk about is that pretty much 50% to 80% of all companies, depending on the numbers, fail at five years. What we have is we have probably some of those companies that are failing don't know how to manage things well, but a lot of them aren't even growing enough to support themselves. Everybody dreams of being able to double in a year and maybe triple in size in a year and all of that kind of stuff.
I'll refer you to a book. Well, I'll mention it right now. It's called Double Double by a guy by the name of Herold, H-E-R-O-L-D. His whole idea is how to double a business ... He talks about doubling a business in three to five years, and he says, "You could double a business and double your profit in three years by doing X, Y, and Z." It's really building a passion and provision company model. We're all looking at, "What does a really healthy, holistic company look like?" When you're talking about growing super fast, everybody wants to, but I'll tell you right now-
Kathryn: Be careful what you wish for.
Michael: Yeah. We're in a situation right now where Rabbit Hole Hay has been growing at somewhere between 2.6X and 4X for the last three and a half years. What you start running into is you don't have enough cash to buy. Regularly, in a situation like that, it's as if you're doing a full new startup. You have to find the investment money to find all the resources to start up, because the company's growing so fast that the margin you have on your product ... It's not even possible to have enough margin in a product to grow that fast. You have to figure out, "Where do you get the money to buy more inventory? Where do you get the money to pay for rent? Where do you get all that?" because it's all going back into the company, and it's growing so fast.
For Half a Bubble Out, we grow at a nice 10%, 12%, 8% a year, depending on ... It's very comfortable. We like the size of our company. It's great. It's manageable. It's incredibly manageable. It doesn't mean that there aren't stressful times. It doesn't mean that people aren't always paying on time, and you're trying to figure out where the cash is going to come from at a specific time and managing the timing. But RHH is one of those things that's really taught us a lot. In this last year, we've learned a tremendous amount because of the experience. I want to say I'm an experienced business man, and I think I am. I think we are, but-
Kathryn: But there are different types of businesses.
Michael: And there's different types of experiences that we can't all have. Just because we are good at a business doesn't mean we're good at all situations, because we're all learning. We're all growing. We all have things we can learn from other people. We wanted to talk, as we talk today, about this cash flow issue and thinking about it. There are things that you want to know about, and I want to encourage you to increase your financial intelligence.
The first question I have is, "Great. If I don't know about this, how long is this going to take?" I'm thinking, "Does this mean I have to go back to college?" When numbers aren't your normal thing, to wrap your arms around the numbers is hard, and to know what questions to ask.
Kathryn: Well, we would say, first of all, no, you don't have to go back to college, but you do have to know enough to know what questions to ask so that you get the information you need to be intelligent. We had a client recently who ... He's not a numbers guy, and he had a CFO and trusted the CFO, and all that was dandy, but turned out that he wasn't getting the right reports. He wasn't asking the right questions, and when all was said and done, he discovered that there was a pretty significant discrepancy in what he thought they had access to and what they actually did. I mean, like-
Michael: I think the numbers are more important. They had almost a million dollars in the bank, probably $800,000 in the bank, and within two years, they had-
Kathryn: They had nothing.
Michael: ... probably about $50,000 left.
Michael: And that was it.
Kathryn: And he was being told everything was okay. So, the reality is while you can talk about whatever was uncouth about all of that, if the person in charge had known the questions to ask and been getting the right reports and looking at things that they should have been looking at, they would not have run into that situation.
Michael: And it happens. It happens. It happens so easy, and if you're honest enough, you'll know that it can happen to you. Michael Gerber, the famous author for The E-Myth, published multiple times, multiple variations of it in different markets, all about holistic perspective on business, understanding how to grow your company, and what does that look like? He said in one of his books, E-Myth Mastery ... He talked and was very vulnerable about the fact that what he did is with his ... He had this great idea, and he had this best-selling book, and all of this kind of stuff was amazing, and people talked about him all the time, but his partner/CFO was saying, "Oh, things are going great. We're doing all this stuff," and he had just gotten the latest amazing report the week before that they had all this money in the bank, and that they were profitable, and there was extra cash coming in.
Then, all of a sudden, the guy walked in one day and said, "We're not doing well. Actually, we're not doing as well as I've been saying we're doing. I've been trying to fix it, and I have been telling you one thing, but we are losing money. We have debtors at the door, sending us letters and calling us, and we are in debt to the tune of somewhere between a million and a million and a half dollars."
Michael: These stories, we don't like to tell them. They're embarrassing to tell, especially when we've been successful in business. This was a business that was growing. It was a several-million-dollar business. It was thriving, growing. Here is this guy who's written a book about how you do this and how it's amazing.
Kathryn: That's the worst kind of ... No!
Michael: Awful. Talk about humiliating and everything else. Yet, it can happen to any of us. Probably, from what all of our friends in the banking industry, what the folks that have done this survey of 4,000 people that wrote Financial Intelligence and on and on and on ... People say, that are experts in this industry, "Business leaders are not usually, as a whole ..." The rule of thumb is we're not great at the finances, and we don't know how to get better, and it's overwhelming, and what does that look like?
So, this book, first of all, explains it really well. If you're willing to read it ... I know you're going to go, "I hate reading about finances." This is not reading a finance textbook. Okay? It's not. It's written like a normal book, and you can get it on audio at Audible.com. It's actually way more worthwhile when you think about it. Second, you actually have to ask for the reports. You need to start looking at a balance sheet, an income statement, and trying to figure out how to get a cash flow statement.
Kathryn: Along with your AR and AP.
Michael: And your AR and your AP. Okay. You need to be looking at these things and paying attention to them. I'm going to admit, we haven't always paid attention to them like we should, and we haven't always read our reports and studied our reports and had a meeting about them.
Kathryn: It's really easy to get buried in the day to day of everything, and so it becomes kind of-
Michael: So easy.
Kathryn: It just gets sidelined. You're just pushing on, and suddenly two, three months have gone by, and you haven't looked at reports, or your partner says, "Could you get me the reports?" and the response is, "I put them on your desk two weeks ago," and they say, "Oh, yeah. I vaguely remember that."
Kathryn: But never got looked at.
Michael: Done that. Right? Just recently I did that. "I need those reports." "Oh, yeah. They're on your desk."
Kathryn: Just to defend myself a little.
Michael: "Where on my desk?" If you're a solopreneur or a very, very, very small shop, and you only have a couple of people, and you're doing the checkbook, the basic books and stuff, I want to encourage you that one of the things ... and you're going to say, "I don't have the time." This is the thing you need to invest time in. This is super important. This is a fundamental, and I'm going to say this, and if you were here, I'd be pointing my finger at you going, "You need to do this." I would be looking at three fingers pointing right back at me. This is for me as much as it is for you.
Together, we need to commit, as business owners and leaders, to becoming better at our craft, and our craft, running a business, is that. We need to understand the fundamentals of our craft. If we don't, that is really what tears away at the passion and provision, at the ability of us to increase our potential of being successful in a volatile world where business is hard, and it's hard to handle all the different details. It's hard to lead people at the same time, while you're trying to take care of customers. It's hard to work on the project and do marketing at the same time. We've been there. We live in the trenches. We understand.
Kathryn: But the reality is the cash stuff, the finance stuff, that's the stuff that if that isn't going well, it is absolutely eating away at you. It's the stuff that makes you lay awake at night and wonder if you've done the right thing or wonder if the whole experiment of starting a business was a complete failure and all of those things that happen. I mean, cash is one of those things ... and even in your standard relationship with a married couple that don't own a business, they'll say that money is one of the biggest reasons people fight. It's one of the biggest struggle areas, right?
Kathryn: You take that to the level of being responsible for a company and for paying people-
Michael: Good point.
Kathryn: ... and keeping things moving forward, and there is nothing that can spawn fear and dread more than not having a handle on your finances.
Michael: Yeah, and there's nothing that can get you lazier than actually having a lot of cash in the bank. Now, there are some people who can handle both of those, and your risk tolerance and all of that ... Your natural risk tolerance is part of that, but some people having $100 in the bank is comfortable, and some people having $100,000 in the bank is uncomfortable because there's not enough.
We have an outsourced CFO, which I'm going to recommend that you might be looking into in your area, and it's different than having an accountant. Having a good accountant is important. Having a outsourced CFO that's looking at things not from, "Do you have enough?" but, "How are you planning ahead? How are you looking ..." What we talk about is most accountants think bottom up. How do we make things profitable? How do we get to that break even? How do we make sure that we're accounting for those things? CFOs typically will look at top down, so, "Okay. We don't want to look at what's just going to make us profitable, but what's the potential profit we can get out of this product? Where are we going to plan forward?"
There are folks like that in different areas of the country. Those are really valuable. But our CFO, he loves it when there's a certain amount of cash, because that's a certain amount of operating days he looks at, that if everything were to fall apart, if there were another Great Recession or whatever, how many days could they actually operate the company, make payroll and everything else, without-
Kathryn: Any more cash coming in.
Michael: ... any more cash coming at all, if it just kind of all dried up for a season? Those are important things to look at, and your industry and your business is going to be different, in different places.
That said, you want to look at having those people that are on your team and giving you those perspectives, because having wise counsel is also going to be important, and then you can start looking at, "Okay. What does this look like? What does it look like for me to understand which reports I need to have? If I compare my inventory to my accounts payable, there is a ratio in there." Do you know what that is? Do you know how that can inform? Do you know how many operating days, if you didn't have to buy any more product ... How much product do you have left on the shelf? If you're an information company, what does that look like? How far can you go? And understanding those things. Depending on your industry, depending on your business, there are certain ratios that are going to be super helpful to help you project a little bit more.
I'll be honest. We're still learning. We've done this for a long time, and we've weathered a lot of storms. I know way more than I did when we started this thing, and I know way more than we did five years ago. When we brought in our outsourced CFO, it was really helpful, but if you're a small company and you're really those tiny, tiny companies where it's really hard, you're wearing a lot of hats, I just want to say, hey, there are some basic things you can do. If you're willing to commit somewhere around 40 hours this year to improving your financial intelligence, 40 hours between now and Christmas, for the next six months, then that's like two hours a week max. You will see the benefit of that increasing your financial intelligence and some of your discipline and making sure that you're managing your books, putting them into QuickBooks or whatever you use and actually saying, "Okay. I'm going to print a report out," because a couple of weeks ago, we talked about biases, and when you're all by yourself and you're wearing the single hat, you have biases that you think you're fully aware of what's going on with all the numbers until somebody else comes along and asks questions. I know this from a firsthand experience. Somebody else comes along, asks you a question, and you go, "I don't know."
Kathryn: I don't know.
Michael: The question they ask first is, "How well do you know your numbers? How well do you know your finances?" I'm like, "Unless this is a trick question, I know it pretty well." Okay. Maybe I don't know it as well, and what I don't know ... the old saying. I don't know what I don't know, and those things that are in the shadows of what I don't know, I don't know what's going to be helpful.
Kathryn: Well, and the danger with finances ... and part of this is personality things, so it may just be me, but if you don't have a clear handle on what is objectively true, then you are going to be looking at finances and looking at cash and looking at everything that you're doing subjectively. It's going to be all about how you feel.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely.
Kathryn: On the day the check comes in the mail from the client, you feel great. Things are great, and the day that the check didn't come and you thought it was coming, then you feel awful, and there's no objective reality. I can say that because that tended to be where I lived for a long time, and it also made me a really poor planner, because what I would do is I was hyper-responsible. I would pay everything that I could with whatever money came in, not thinking about, "Oh, I've got payroll due in a week," and if I spend all of this now and something else doesn't come in, then I'm going to be in panic mode in a week. How do I plan ahead? How do I think through and plan so that I'm not causing myself undue stress and not having to lay awake at night? Those are just important things that I have had to learn and I have to continue to learn.
Michael: Absolutely. Absolutely. Those are always challenges, and there's different ways we use language and everything else, and we talk about it and frame it, but if you can do that, here's what you're going to do. Here's what I suggest. First of all, get this book, Financial Intelligence. Second, you can buy it on Amazon, buy it on HVR, Harvard Business Review, and then read it.
Now, here's some other things you can do. If you go to their website ... and we're going to try and figure out a way to incorporate this in our new membership site, HaBOVillage.com, which is not up yet, but if you go to HaBOVillage.com, you can sign up there on the wait list and hear more about it as it comes out. Our goal is to take what we've been talking about on this podcast and actually create a course and a community that is focused on helping small business leaders grow their companies, grow a passion and provision company, or grow a better, more effective passion and provision company, if that's something you're already doing. We're trying to figure out how we're going to incorporate this finance stuff, but right now, because that's not up yet, go to their website at Financial Intelligence. I think it's on the back of the book, or inside the book, and it's the Financial Literacy Institute. Here, you can Google that.
What they have is two things that are going to be important. Right? Okay. First of all, $5. Take the quiz. $5. Take the quiz, and if you don't know the answer to a question, I would encourage you ... You could guess, because they're multiple choice. If you don't know, don't guess, or at least when you get the answers back, if you got it right, don't get all excited that you got an answer right because you guessed. You need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt. You need to have extreme confidence. That's where mastery happens, and that's where the lack of stress happens, and that's where efficiency happens for you when you're making decisions, is you know these principles. I chose to not answer certain things. That's where I got my 55%, is I just didn't know, and some of the things I thought I knew, I was wrong.
Now, that said, the other thing you can do is once you've taken the test, for $100, $99, they have an online course. They actually do seminars and webinars and stuff for corporations and a lot of companies, and they bring it in. Those are more expensive, but for the one-on-one person that can't get there to a webinar or to a workshop that they have ... I think they're in Southern California ... you can do this online course. I'm actually going to add it. It's added to my list of things that I'm going to make sure I'm doing for a couple of reasons, but I want to become better at this.
Then I'm going to continue to talk with Kathryn about it and practice it. I'm going to continue to work on that, and then I'm also having our external CFO, Jeff ... I'm going to talk to him about it, and I'm going to start using him to coach me even more in these areas, and then we're going to start applying it, the extra stuff we're learning, to all of our businesses so that we continue to have more clarity and less stress, because having the ability to see and measure and know what's going on means we know what levers to pull that are going to get the best value.
When we do that, a couple of things happen. The more clarity we have, the less stress we are under, and we have seen that during seasons when we've gone through and had regular reports and finance meetings and stuff like that too. There is a whole area of ... You get excited when you actually put all this work in, and you see the benefit come out, and you see that if you start doing these two things that you weren't sure that you should focus on ... So, you were doing five things, and you stop doing three, and you focus on two ... the overall picture starts to change. You get more energy, more results out of it.
Now, it's like being on that teeter-totter on the playground and walking all the way up almost to the middle and trying to push it up and down when somebody else is sitting on the other side and how hard it is. Knowing what to do here, it's like, "Oh, I didn't know that there was this board out behind me," and you go all the way out to the end, and you push down on it, and it's so much easier to create change because you knew where to push. When you don't have the knowledge of what these things do or you don't have the information because you didn't ask ... doesn't know how to read a report. You didn't get a report, and you didn't know how to put together ratios ... you miss out on that. I'm telling you, 40 hours this year.
Kathryn: And that's the book and the workshop.
Michael: Book, test, workshop, and then find a place, if you can, to continue to ask questions. If you have an accountant, go buy an hour's worth of their time and sit down and talk to them about what you're learning and the results and everything else. If you have a good accountant, they're going to be able to talk with you, because it's helpful to dialogue with somebody through these things if they know what you're talking about. This will radically help your company in multiple ways.
All right. That's probably enough. Okay. Hopefully, I just want to inspire you that this is an amazing thing, and while it can suck, and you've got to lean in, and you've got to do something sometimes you don't want to do, this is that thing you don't want to do that will pay results. It's worth it, so do it. I know it from firsthand experience, and we're going to continue to lean in with you and continue to have dialogue on the podcast and in HaBO Village membership site, coming September 24, 2018. The other thing is I hope you can join us. You can join us in the membership site. I think there'll be more interaction, more ability, and more help on this subject and this journey that we're all sharing together of creating companies with more joy, more profit, so that we can achieve more freedom and impact as we pursue our calling and our contribution ...
Kathryn: And our legacy.
Michael: ... to the point where we're leaving a legacy. All right. Hey, thank you very much for paying attention today and tuning in. We know that your time is valuable. I'm Michael Redman.
Kathryn: And I'm Kathryn Redman.
Michael: And this is HaBO Village Podcast. Have a great week.