Settle in for a real business owner-to-business owner chat on when and where your time and money should be invested.
What exactly do I mean when I say the empress has no clothes? Simply put, I’m referring to a facade. It’s what happens when a business’s public persona doesn’t match its behind-the-scenes situation. In my company, The Chic CFO, I serve as a virtual CFO for my clients, which means that I get deep into their finances. I see the good, the bad, and the ugly and sometimes, even the scary!
Before I actually start working with my clients, I have no clue what their financial situation is like. All I have initially is their online persona and brand. So when I receive an inquiry from a potential new client, the very first thing I do is diligently stalk them online, as I’m sure they do to me right before they decide to fill out my inquiry form. And as I’m stalking these potential clients, I head over to all the main spots, Facebook, Instagram, their website, and sometimes even Pinterest and LinkedIn if they’re active there.
I’m a sucker for a beautifully designed brand; show me a carefully curated Instagram feed and I swoon. Then when we begin our onboarding and I actually see their financials, sometimes I’m in total shock. What I discover is that the carefully chosen color palettes and impressive use of Canva templates were all a facade to cover the fact that they’re broke. And I don’t mean living paycheck to paycheck broke I mean not even taking a paycheck broke.
And do you want to hear the most disturbing part? All of these companies were making over $1 million per year in revenue. So where did all the money go? Simply put, it went to sh*t. Every time that I had to explain to an entrepreneur what they had spent their money on, they would be shocked. Even though every single dollar has been spent by them, they genuinely had no concept of the amounts. Once the shock wears off (for both of us!), we start our tedious journey. I begin educating my clients on what they should and shouldn’t be spending their time and money on.
As an entrepreneur, your two most valuable resources are time and money, so it’s absolutely imperative that you are picky about how you spend them. Remember our mantra? If it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense. So every time you are about to spend money or time on something, I want you to ask yourself one question: will this make me money? Is the item or service you’re about to purchase or the task you are spending time doing resulting in revenue dollars. In other words, are you generating sales?
So often entrepreneurs get lost in the busy work, like social media, blogging, podcasting, the networking events. But remember, your company has only one purpose: to make money. You make money by generating sales. This means that the vast majority of your day should be spent on generating sales. Don’t get lost in the noise of the day-to-day. Remember that done is better than perfect. You cannot get lost in analysis paralysis, where you convince yourself that you need fancy equipment, or you need to write blog posts that sound like a New York Times bestseller. You don’t have time to be paralyzed by procrastination.
Time is money, and if you want to make money, you have to make sales. Every single entrepreneur is a salesperson. You have to actually sell your product or service in order to make money. Yet somehow sales always seem to be on the back burner. So often I will speak to my entrepreneurs about the financial state of their company, and I’ll tell them they need to increase revenue by a certain percentage in order to hit the goals that we’ve set together. And in certain cases month after month, I will see the revenue remain stagnant. And you want to know why? Because the entrepreneur always manages to find something that they deem more important than sales.
Let me be clear – There is nothing more important than sales. Your company can’t survive without money. There is no excuse big enough to ever put sales on the backburner. Your only job as an entrepreneur is to sell. And if you can’t do that, then you had better find someone who can or you are going to go under and lose your business.
When I started my company, I didn’t have a website, Facebook page or even a business card. I was on the board of the Women’s Business Center, and I was teaching classes to entrepreneurs, so I was really able to organically grow my practice through that network. But it was nothing substantial. I started my company with … a very old laptop. But I had one advantage. I knew the golden rule. If it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense!
So I refused to spend money on anything until I could generate enough sales to prove my concept. I wanted to prove to myself that this wasn’t just a side hustle, but that it had the potential to be a real company. I wanted to wait until I had enough sales that the revenue from the business could pay for the website, the logo, etc.
I operated like this for the first-year guys. I think at some point throughout that time, I did make a quick Facebook page because a prospect asked me if I had one. Toward the end of the year, a client asked me about a website. So I created one on my iPad in under an hour for less than $150 using a GoDaddy template. And to be honest the website looked like my four-year-old made it
All the while, I had become friends with another entrepreneur who was in a business Facebook group with me. This person offers the same services as me, and we actually launched it at the same time! It was really great to follow our journeys together and see how it all played out. But there was one very, very big difference between me and this person. I spent a couple hundred dollars within my first year. She invested over $20,000 to launch her business. She had the gorgeous logo, the fancy website, social media channels bursting with content, the blogs, the Pinterest — you name it, and she had it covered.
Then here I was with my teensy little amateur website, approximately three posts on Facebook, and a laptop on its last leg. So how do you think the two of us made out after our first year? Well, at the end of that 12 months, she had spent over $20,000 on her business, but she actually lost money. In my first year, I’m proud to say I generated six figures from a couple hundred dollar investment.
Is your mind blown? Because mine was. How is it possible? It comes back to the golden rule. If it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense. And how do we make our money? By making sales! How will you have time to generate sales if you’re so busy designing the facade of your company? If you have no sales, I can’t go to your website and read that you help entrepreneurs make money since you have no clients.
I waited until I hit multiple six figures to invest in the website I have now. I waited for a while before I would even dare say that I help entrepreneurs increase their profits because I had to prove it to myself and to my clients that I could actually do that. I had to prove it and make sure it was validated before I dared to launch my podcast. Otherwise, this would all be a facade.
I launched my company with one goal – to make money. That was it. So if you’re getting lost in all the other noise, take it back to basics and focus on your sales. There is nothing else more important. Why does it always seem like it’s the least important thing on your list, or something else is taking priority? If one of your marketing avenues (like blogging, for instance) is not working for you, switch to another medium. Try videos, Facebook groups or even a podcast! There are tons of ways to generate sales. But you have to find the one that works for you.
And you have to actually do it! Don’t tell me that you spent your day answering emails or organizing your office. Those things don’t move the needle. If it doesn’t result in extra dollars in your bank account, you shouldn’t spend more than 20 minutes on it. I really want you to examine your calendar through this new lens and ask yourself, “Is my calendar full of revenue-generating activities?” And if the answer is no, rearrange it.
I want you to make a conscious effort to schedule revenue-generating activities on your calendar each and every single day. You should also set sales goals based on that time because it’s not enough to simply schedule this. We have to make sure we are measuring it to see if it’s working.
Follow this plan for at least a month. And I promise you will be floored by your results. Put sales on the front burner where they belong. Everything else will get done in time. Sales have to come first. If I could build my company with a beat-up laptop, so can you! So instead of parading around in the facade of your “fancy clothes” without any money, invest in sales to get you where you want to be. Then you can comfortably be decked out in the attire of your dreams.