What to do when you're struggling in your business
I have written today's read in response to watching a business buddy get to a point of confusion and disillusion because their
business dream has been feeling more like a nightmare lately,
and that's because he's working long hours, seven days a week.
So today, I want to clarify the three things every business owner WANTS and NEEDS from their business – and actually how to get them. I'd love for you to be able to take a step back from your business, and get some clarity and perspective about how you're going to move forward from where you are right now, to where you want to be in a year or two or three or more.
I want to talk about a few things.
Firstly, what to do when you are struggling in business. So you know that this site is all about helping you do better in business. And secondly, I want to explain how I can help. So I can absolutely help by giving you this kind of content, right? I serve up lots of great free content in order to help you, but sometimes I watch business owners continue to struggle, and that is often because they need a little bit more help. And I'm all about helping you self assess your need to work with me or anyone else.
what does struggling look like?
Because it is so easy just to feel stuck in a mess and everything's not working, but it's important to consider and to know that there are three things that primarily your business needs to give you, and they are PROFIT, CASH, and TIME. So we need profit and cash. They're like oxygen.
We need to pull enough profit out of our business, so that it can put food on the table, right? We need the cash flow to be there. A lot of business owners are under the impression that profit and cash are kind of the same thing, and that's okay. This is about educating yourself slowly along the way. I've got a great free eBook available and it's called The 7 Deadly Cash Flow Sins – do grab that, it'll give you some insights, and I've got more podcasts on that subject as well.
But ultimately, profit and cash flow are like oxygen for your business. Beyond that though, let's say that the profit's there and the cash flow's okay, what about time? Because I see
business owners with profitable, cashed up businesses that are killing them.
Yeah, it's very common. And so when I work with clients in a way that is both one-on-one and also includes access to online education and resources, the three primary things that we're focusing on is the profit, the cash, and the time. And a lot of the time, it is time.
When I work around profit and cash, I think of it as the life support work, right? So if a business is not profitable enough, if the cash flow problems are bad enough, then this is a make or break situation. So I call that stuff life support because I want to get the business to a point where it's surviving. And then beyond that, it's about getting that business thriving. And that's a lot around stabilizing profit and cash, but also allowing the business owner to bring their head up, take a breath, and start to pull the time out of their business.
So why did you go into business for yourself in the first place?
There may have been many reasons, but almost every entrepreneur will tell you, "I did it because I wanted freedom." And if your problem is that the business is killing you and you don't have more time, I suggest you don't have more FREEDOM.
And so the dream that you once had may be quickly turning into a nightmare. Those of you who know me know I don't pull punches very well. And so while I will always try and be gentle, I will also always try and have the courage to be honest with you.
So if you are having problem with profit, with cash, or with time, you really do need to seek help. You need to learn to think the right way. You need to get educated around what you actually need to do, and then from learning what you need to know, you need to take action. Often what I find is that business owners really need to also be held accountable to that action.
So now, I want to talk about how I help clients and a little bit about myself as well. So I have had my bookkeeping practice Cloud 9 Strategic for about 13 years. I'm currently Australian Bookkeeper of the Year. I've got a lot of other feathers in my cap. Prior to deciding to operate my own bookkeeping practice, I was in heavy duty business operations. I helped our family business grow from 10 to a hundred millions. It was massive, there were tears. But it taught me everything, or a lot of what I know about scaling. It became very natural for me.
So what I did is that – if you imagine a business going from 10 million turnover a year to a hundred million – throughout that growth, I would go to department to department that wasn't working, because I really enjoyed doing that and I would systemize, make it all work, recruit staff to take over, train them, lead the department in their capable hands and move to the next department. So I have been involved in pretty much all parts of an organization of a business.
Now that said, when I got into a business for myself, I found small business mind-blowing. It is far less departmentalized and I think a lot harder. So the last 13 years working in small business enterprise has been amazing and mind-blowing and I am privileged to help amazing small business entrepreneurs go from good to great and to help them with the profit, the cash, and the time.
The way that I do that is through a specific structure. So it's through Numbers Mastery, Business Mastery, and ultimately, Mindset Mastery. And we are definitely all about education, action, and accountability.
So the Numbers Mastery: we have a five step numbers system and I have a colleague here who heads that up. So the clients that we work quite intensively with have one hour at least intensive session per month, which also commences with some workshops and some other work there to set the scene. But ultimately, what the Numbers Mastery is about is paying attention to your numbers in a way that holds you accountable to the PROFIT and CASH, in a way that helps you to understand what optimal business performance looks like for your business, and aims to help you to actually optimize your business to the targets that are set, so that you have a solid financial base from which to pull the time rich out. Because we can't even think about being time rich if the business is going to suffocate from not enough oxygen, which is profit and cash.
So on the Business Mastery side, I head that up myself through this same platform, the Better in Business. So, I have an academy which includes courses and resources, and I have a five step system there as well. So that system is quite linear like our number system. So it is PLAN, TEAM, MARKETING, SELLING and STANDARDS. Because in terms of our plan, there's lots of stuff there. You need to nail things like your plan on a page, your strategic foundation and your marketing playbook, and the things from which your business can use as a springboard to succeed. So we know, you will have heard, if you failed to plan, you plan to fail. So planning in your business generally is really important.
The second step in that system, team. The reason that that comes next is because once we have a game plan, if you think of it that way, then what you want to do is build the winning team. So if you don't put the right people in the right positions, then you're probably not going to win the game. In terms of team, there's lots of important stuff that goes on there, but this is about the right people in the right jobs. Now, once we have the plan in place, the game plan, once we have the winning team, then we move on to marketing because we don't want to go lead generating before the plan and the team, right?
Even if you haven't got a team yet, even if it's just you, then you will have suppliers, you will have lots of different things that we need to think about in terms of how you're going out in the world, okay? But then when we get to marketing, this is about lead gen. What I often see is entrepreneurs neglecting what I call marketing 101 and the diamonds at their feet, and focusing on flashier biggest strategies that often cost a lot of money and don't give the return on investment required, especially in small business. It does not have the budget, okay? So working a lot around marketing 101 and fundamentals and also what I call the now marketing, the stuff that you need to be doing in this economic and tech landscape.
So after marketing, there's selling. So that is turning those leads into clients. There's lots of things we work on there. It's the conversion process, it's regulating capacity with price, one of my favorite topics. It is being able to
convey your value so that you are chosen on value
and price becomes secondary or irrelevant and lots and lots of other things there.
But ultimately, the ability to be strong in that selling or conversion space is really important.
And then the fifth step is standards. Standards, also known as standard operating procedures or systems and processes. Nailing your systems and processes is absolutely critical to thriving in business but also to scaling. So at this point I'll remind you, which I've spoken about in other podcasts, that growing and scaling, two different things.
So growing, you can grow your revenue, but scaling is about being able to grow your net profits. Expand your business while not also having to be glued at the wheel.
So when I scaled my business, just for example, that was about creating great systems, great team, great customer experience while being able to actually reduce my hours in the business. So
scaling is NOT you hustling and working harder,
it's you incrementally improving net profit. And you can scale a business without actually increasing revenue. One of the clients that I have worked with in this space, the way I got him to go from close to bankruptcy to 80 grand a month – was doing less revenue. So scaling my friends is very different to growing. Management accountants like myself will often say we do see businesses from time to time grow and grow and grow until they're bust, whereas scaling is what we want to do more than growing.
Systems are the key to scaling our business. Meaning, the investment we make in systemizing our business is massive. In my bookkeeping practice, we are just evolving into a new tech for systems. We lean into our systems. The more efficient we become, the more I see us scale. That's the Numbers Mastery and the Business Mastery.
So I have a brain model that helps business owners to understand what makes them REACTIVE rather than PROACTIVE. I call proactive the master habit – the ability to create and run on your schedule rather than everybody else's. Moving from reactive to proactive is a lot like going to the gym and building new muscle, and I help business owners to develop that master habit. And when they fall back into bad habits, we just work on how that is actually okay and normal. A good habit will make us, a bad habit will break us. But I support them along the way to become proactive.
One of my clients was telling me that that was one of the most impactful parts of what we do together, and he was able to expand his business interstate and win massive jobs because by becoming proactive and implementing some really simple systems we have around team. He won so much time back that he was able to proactively go about chasing and winning these amazing new jobs. That client is now regulating capacity with price. He is southeast Queensland's biggest and best for his industry, and I feel very privileged to be working with him.
And so, when we bring clients on into this space of helping them more strategically to solve these problems around profit, cash, time (primarily these are the things), then we start out with some diagnostic tools. I'm a massive believer that we need to start as we mean to go on. So often, I see business owners a lot like a hamster on a wheel. They are so busy and so frantic when I sit them down and say, "What are you doing all this for? What are you working towards?" They often have forgotten. They can't answer it.
It is so important to be able to pause, to take a breath and to design the 10 out of 10 business and life that you want.
And that your 10 out of 10 doesn't have to be anybody else's 10 out of 10, okay? So my 10 out of 10, I want to put my health first. I believe our health is our wealth and I love to invest time and energy and money into my health, into my mental, spiritual and physical health. So Latin dancing is my spiritual health and I do it almost seven days or seven nights a week. I want to be time rich probably more than I want to be money rich. I want enough. I want a point of satisfaction in terms of profit and cash that will allow me to feel safe and secure and give me enough to do all the things that I want to do in retirement. Although I do feel that the best things in life are often free. Mum – my 10 out of 10 includes being able to be there for my little boy without freaking out, without stressing out. My 10 out of 10 is also having the freedom to set my own goals and run my own race, which is why I'm an entrepreneur, right?
Another friend and client of mine, her 10 out of 10 is working heaps of hours because she loves her business so much. I don't want to work full-time hours. But your 10 out of 10 is your 10 out of 10. The point here being, it is so important to sit down and work out what that looks like. So where are you now? What is going on for you now in terms of profit, cash, and time?
And where do you want to be in the future, and how long do you want to take to get there?
If you know these things, you can actually then move to create an action plan. It's like, "Okay, well if I'm at A and I want to get to B, okay, now I can see the gap," right? So let's say we're working 60 hours a week and we want to work 30 hours a week. You can see the gap. So then we need to look at, "All right, what are the things that we need to do in order to move from working 60 hours a week to working 30 hours a week?" That's where diagnostic tools are great. It's where my five step Business Mastery system is great too and the Numbers Mastery, because we can look to the five steps and we can look to our diagnostic tools and we can help to identify where the pain in the business lies.
So when you're feeling like everything's broken, everything's wrong, we can use these tools to say, "Well, hang on a sec. Actually, these things aren't all wrong. The pain is here and the pain is here." And I promise you, with all the business owners that I've worked with in my 13 years running my strategic bookkeeping practice, the pain is in one, two or three areas. Never more than that. I believe one of the reasons for that is if you got pain in more than one, two or three areas, you probably won't survive it. So when I dive deep into your numbers and your business, I can show you, "You know what? It feels like there are problems everywhere, but there actually aren't."
I was working with this wonderful client, but he felt a bit the same. When I did the diagnostics on his business, certain things were so easily fixable. And it was like that's a cakewalk. And then he was nailing certain things that are harder to fix, so I said to him, "You are nailing them. These things are really, really hard to fix, but you are nailing them. The things that are not so hard to fix, we can do that." And within six months we got incredible results.
Next, I just want to touch on how long does it take to get results. So as I said earlier, don't pull punches and I believe that honesty is a gift. It is going to take a year. So do we get quicker wins? Yes, we do. Like I talked about that client where we took them from the brink of bankruptcy to 80 grand a month... So there was like, I call it two months of emergency work and then four months of intensive work. It was amazing when we got there in six months. Now, we had to do that. I'm not sure that he would've been able to continue to trade if we didn't. We worked really intensively, we worked really hard. It was lots of fun, lots of celebrations. But that said, that six month period was about getting him off life support, or as I like to call it, getting the boat afloat. So we got the boat afloat. Everybody took a deep breath. Everybody said, "Okay, we can move ahead now."
Bear in mind that that business is now turning over 4 million a year. This is not a small business, but the profit was zero. So once we got it profitable, it's like – okay, now the boat's afloat. We had to focus really narrowly on the biggest problem in the business, which at that point was cost of sales. So when we fixed that, there's a lot more work to be done. So any transformation, be it in personal or business, is going to take you a year. Success is found in the long game. And to come into this believing that everything will be better in a month is not the mindset that will get you the success that you desire.
So absolutely, while you will get quick wins in terms of profit, cash, and time, cash is an easy one to fix if you are prepared to accept the reality of what you need to do and do it. And actually, a lot of things can be like that. But you'll have big quick wins around profit, cash, and time, absolutely. But the true success and the long-lasting success and the scaling of your business will happen in the long game, and I call it the laps around the sun. So your first lap around the sun is the most critical, and it's also where I get to see what you are prepared to do. Beyond that first year is where you just go from strength to strength with diagnostic tools all along the way.
So the time rich part, I call that prosperity. Profit and cash, I call that optimal business performance. So I like to do diagnostic tools around your business performance, but also your prosperity score. I need you to tell me that we are getting higher scores along the way in each one of those things. No system works. You work the system. So it is absolutely important that you come into this prepared to do the hard work involved. And when I say hard work, I don't actually mean hustle. Hard work, I probably mean tough decisions.
One of the things that I love about finance and business generally is often a lot of things are really black and white. And often, we can diagnose a problem, come up with a solution, and then it's just a matter of the business owner saying, "Yes, I will step up and I will have the courage and the confidence to actually make the decision and follow through." And also be about taming your people pleasing monster.
So we've talked about timeframes. Let's quickly touch on the kind of financial investment you would have to make to have my team help you in this space. So, we tailor a program to suit the size of your business and everything about your business. So the fee for services is commiserate with what we believe you need in our recommendations. However, there's something I like to say about this, and that is that
our services in this space don't cost anything.
That is because this is a true investment. I do not have any lock-in contracts. So I work with you month to month. I make a big investments in my clients because often, the work I'm doing early on is really intensive. So it will never be first and foremost about profit. It's about impact for me.
So we work with you month to month. My expectation is that you get a return on your investment in our services far greater than the fee. So when we work with clients around a really deep strategy in order to help them move from surviving to thriving in that profit, cash, and time space, they are getting 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 100 times return on their investment. So this is not a cost, this is an investment.
Now, you know that I'm all about helping you take action. So this was absolutely to help you to understand, "What do I do if I'm struggling?", and I do want to say, look,
the definition of "insanity" is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you want to be in a different place in 12 months time, you need to start NOW.
I would love to talk to you about how we can help. So absolutely, you can reach out to me and you can book in a complimentary strategy session with me.
I did a podcast called "Is My Business Healthy?" – that one points you to really great diagnostic tools. So I'd absolutely recommend that you do those.
So, I want you to ask yourself why you wouldn't reach out and get help. Because usually, the reason is either time or money. If you are saying, "I don't have enough time," why did you go into business in the first place?
So if you don't have enough time, you need to MAKE time.
If you can't give me two hours in a month to help you do better in business, or if you can't give me the equivalent of about an hour a day, you need to be working on your business, not just in it an hour a day. Then you need to put the time, excuse aside, and realize that when you say, "I don't have enough time," that is the exact reason you need to do that.
Now, if it's that "I don't have enough money," what you need to know is if you are prepared to make the hard choices and do what you need to do in order to move from surviving to thriving, then this will not be a cost anyway.
The other day, an amazing client I work with said, "Well, Jeannie said to do it, so I'm just going to do it." Why did he say that? Because he's learned over a period of years that when we shine a light on his numbers and the business overall, we're able to help him and his team see the things that require attention and the things they need to do. They've been able to see that when they do them, they scale and they improve their profit, their cash, and their time.
Just the other day, someone said to this particular client, "How the heck have you done this?" And he said, "There's just one lady you need to speak to. Jeannie Savage." Which was such an amazing compliment and testimonial to the impact that we are having on his business. So are we doing this for him? No, we are doing it with him.
You are the expert in your business.
We are the expert in supporting you with Numbers Mastery, with Business Mastery, with Mindset Mastery, and holding you accountable to doing what you need to do to move from where you are today to where you want to be in the future.
Okay, so hopefully that wrapped up the action that I recommend you take. There was some kind of thinking about why you're not doing it, there's doing some diagnostic tools for yourself, there's reaching out and having a consultation with me. Definitely keep educating yourself. You need to. As I always say, learn the rules of the game so you can play to win.
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