Many businesses and entrepreneurs don’t know how to meet their goals and set profit because they don’t have a planner that can help them with their accounting. Danielle Hayden, co-owner of Kickstart Accounting and Profit Planner, helps entrepreneurs get accounting off their plate. In this episode, she talks about creating zero accounting overwhelm with her Profit Planner for business owners to create the profits in their business and take home a paycheck they deserve. She breaks down to us the process of incrementally meeting weekly goals and bring your business to new heights. Listen to the story your numbers are telling you as Danielle guides us into this episode.

Profit Planner: Creating The Business Profit You Deserve With Danielle Hayden

We have Danielle Hayden. Welcome, Danielle. 

Thanks for having me, ladies.

We are talking about her Profit Planner, which is a planner and it talks about money. 

It’s for making a profit. She got fancy with the title. We always tell people that clear is better than clever. 

I couldn’t agree more.

The fact that you were still able to have alliteration in there makes it clever as well.

Sometimes people are confused as to what it is because it’s so clear. Is it a planner? I’m like, “Yes, it’s a planner, Profit Planner.” “I didn’t think it was a planner. I thought it was a book.”

We are excited because this time of year a lot of us start thinking about how much money we’ve made. Have we met goals? A lot of people are also thinking about outlining financial goals and general business goals for 2020. It’s a very timely topic. If you think that in 2020, you want to make more money or maybe have a solid financial goal, this is an interview that’s going to help. Danielle, why don’t you tell us a little bit about you and what you do?

I co-own Kickstart Accounting. Entrepreneurs hire us to help them get accounting off their plate. We have so many business owners and entrepreneurs who come to us and say, “I do not want bookkeeping and accounting to occupy my headspace anymore.” We take accounting off their plate. We’ve laid out a signature framework of how we do bookkeeping and present financials to entrepreneurs in a way that you can understand the numbers and then use them to make business decisions. It’s so important.

I was like, “That all sounds so good to me.” I like that you said you help them make decisions because my fear is always, “I don’t want someone telling me what to do,” and yet I need it. 

We want to arm you with the information and then you can make the decision. We’ll help guide you and pull you in the right direction.

I do need that.

I feel like a lot of times, people might have an accountant. I see this a lot with SEO stuff too. You have somebody managing something for you and then that person gives you a monthly report. I talk to people and they have no idea what the report means. Is it good? Is it bad? How does this influence the decision I’m making? 

We hear this a lot. A lot of entrepreneurs have their tax account who is filing their taxes at the end of the year. Their only goal is to make sure that they had numbers to give their tax account.

I raise my hand.

This is a way to say, “Let’s evaluate your financials before the end of the year,” because then you can make business decisions as you go and improve your taxes. Maybe end of the year, tax liability because you have the numbers and you’re armed with the information. Here’s the coolest part about the team that we have at Kickstart. We created a space for business owners to come and talk to us without any shame or embarrassment. It is a 100% safe zone. If you don’t understand something, we’re here for you.

I would imagine as someone who has done this and almost everybody has the same story. You get a lot of people who probably wait too long and know they have waited too long before they seek support with either bookkeeping or accounting.

People come to us all the time and say, “I’m so embarrassed. I cannot believe it’s been this long. I’m embarrassed that I don’t even know where I’m spending money or what I’m doing.” I get it. There are so many mindset issues and taboo around money that it can be hard to admit that you’re not doing it perfectly. You’re not doing it well and you get that help you need.

To bust a few myths, I would imagine that you see that same shame and those same problems with people of all income levels. 

It does not matter if you just started or if you have been in business. We had a client who came to us who had been in business for ten years. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in business. It doesn’t matter how much money you’re bringing. We had a client who came to us and she said, “I want you to teach me how to operate my business at a loss.” We did all her financials, we put everything in the system. We sent to her first set of financial statements and we got on a call and she goes, “How do I operate this business at a loss?” I said, “You had a profit of over $25,000. We need to start setting aside money for taxes and thinking about how you run your business with a profit.” There’s not a leak between income or cash in the bank and what your financials are. There are not those clear-cut equations there. You’ve got to dig in.

Profit Planner: Arm yourself with info and then you can make the decision to put yourself in the right direction of making profit.
Profit Planner: Arm yourself with info and then you can make the decision to put yourself in the right direction of making profit.

Many people feel shame around the money stuff. Usually most entrepreneurs go into business for the thing that they’re loving. Usually, it’s not accounting, unless they’re an accountant. They’re doing something else. Their product is their passion or they are a service provider and they have a different skillset. We’ve somehow expected ourselves also to know that.

That’s like how people expect me to do marketing and Facebook ads.

Intellectually, I do get that too. I know that that’s unrealistic. The more and more though as I talk to other business owners and hear the stories, it doesn’t need to be that way, but the only way to switch it is to get that outside support. This will be a good one for everybody. In addition to having this amazing company, the very deceptively titled Profit Planner, tell the people a little bit about what made you decide to create that?

We had been working with our clients over the last years and although we were able to arm people with the numbers and arm people with information, we still found a gap where we had clients who wanted to dig in further or wanted more education. We’re asking very similar questions. We noticed a trend in the questions that we were being asked. We created a signature framework that we use that we were using for our clients and then put that in the format of the book. The book is meant to be laid out in a way that creates zero accounting overwhelm. I know that sounds mysterious.

You’re like, “Actually, that’s an oxymoron.” 

Walking people through every week, it has a little bit of financial education, get you familiar with that week’s goal, how to do the exercises for that week, and then every day breaks that week’s goal down into one action task. You only have one thing to do every day in the planner so that at the end of the twelve weeks, you’re able to create the profits in your business and take home a paycheck that you deserve.

I know for me, when I felt like, “I’m ready to tackle a lot of this financial stuff,” it felt like I have to prepare myself mentally because I had to do it all at once. That was the mindset that I had. It’s like, “I’m now going to go in and we’re going to do this.” I like that when I’ve been looking at some of the questions and different things, I would’ve thought that I had to do that during week one. I thought I had to do everything at week one. Especially if you’re not doing any of it now, if you do 5% this week and then 5% next week, that’s better than what you’re doing right now, right?

Absolutely. I don’t know about you but when I’m creating momentum and I’m taking action, it makes me want to take more action. The idea is that as you take one step at a time, you’re creating that momentum. Each book is twelve weeks. You have a full 24 weeks laid out for you of daily action tasks that you can use.

When you were creating this, what were a lot of those common questions that were coming up that you felt you kept answering over and over?

How much time do we have? How many hours? Twelve weeks. There’s so much to do. Where do I even begin? That’s why there are two books. There’s one book that’s called Foundations. It’s the first series. It clearly walks you through setting the foundations. You can’t build a house until you have the foundation. That book breaks down those types of questions. How do I set goals? How do I set financial goals? What does success look like for me? How do I define success? What reports do I even generate? A lot of people come to us and say, “I don’t even know how to log into my accounting system. I figured that out. What reports do I even generate? What to look at within those reports?” The whole goal of this is to track the numbers and then use the story. The numbers are trying to tell you a story about your business. The numbers are telling you what’s working right now and what isn’t working. This teaches you how to interpret that story, how to take what the numbers are telling you and use that to make business decisions.

I like that reframe of that the numbers are telling you a story. 

It’s taking the shame out of it because it’s not saying like, “These are bad numbers. You’re doing badly.” Here’s where you’re at.” That’s the opportunity to adjust things. It’s creating a space. We’re so close to our businesses and we’re getting so close to it that we think, “Are the numbers are reflective of us as business owners as opposed to the numbers are a separate thing?”

“If I’m taking a loss on my income statement, that means I’m a loser.” A lot of people feel that way. If I’m not profitable, then I’ve lost it this game. Here is a piece of grace I will give every entrepreneur out there, remember that everything is a season. We worked with a client who came to us and said, “My goal is to grow this business. That is my number one goal. I need you to help me monitor my expenses. I know this year I’m going to take on more money in advertising. I’m going to hold local events. I’m going to spend a lot of money on recruiting people and hosting these events.” She created a mastermind so she had to buy new software and new tools and now we’re looking at 2020 and saying, “We invested big time in business in 2019.” She’s taking a loss, but she knew she was taking a loss because she invested in her business. Now the goal for 2020 is to be as profitable as possible. Look at those expenses. Do I need to spend so much money on every event? How do I reduce the amount of money I’m spending so that I can start to create profits?

Your service does help them to help assess some of that stuff?

Absolutely. At the end of every month, we send our clients their financial statements and I always laugh because I know that people get the email from us and see this big hairy Excel file. They’re like, “I’m not opening that.” We put some key performance indicators right there in the email.

I was going to say, “That’s the one.” 

“If you could at least open our email, we’ll give you some pieces right there.” We’ll give them some key performance indicators right there in that email. We always encourage our clients, “Tell us what your goals are this year?” We can help you and say, “I know your goal was to invest in advertising. Here’s how much you’ve spent to date.” Let’s take my Profit Planner for instance. If my goal this year was to invest in advertising for the Profit Planner, let’s say I invested a lot in Facebook ads, I could then go through with it and say, “Here’s how many books I’ve sold and here’s how much I’ve paid in Facebook ads. This is how much I’m paying per book.” As our clients give us their goals, we can help them interpret how they’re doing.

That’s great because a lot of people, intellectually, most business owners get that and want that. Going in and digging through stats and digging through financial numbers and all of that to get the information is a different story. I’ve definitely done that myself, where sometimes it feels it’s more difficult than it should be. You’re like, “Am I looking at the right number here? How can you know if I run it this way? I get one result and if I run it this way, I get another one.” That’s awesome. It also sounds like it’s very individualized. 

The book as well walks through formulas on how to run a lot of this analysis. If you’re somebody who says, “I like doing my bookkeeping. I want to keep on doing my own books. I like having a handle on it,” then you could grab the book and it walks you through some exercises on how to do the analysis. It takes that mystery out of it. I always say we have a KPI mystery, a key performance indicator mystery.

You’re saying in the Foundations book, it even starts to give you a framework. Sometimes it’s overwhelming because you don’t even know where to start. It gives you that framework of, “Here are the KPIs. Here are the key performance indicators you should possibly look at that probably across the board, no matter what industry, are the important things that you should be tracking.” I know for me too when I’ve thought about when you create your dashboard of reporting and what should I be tracking, I feel like I want to track that, but is that actually useful? I want to be thoughtful about not wasting time if can. Sometimes it’s trial and error. You have to track it for a while and see if that is even useful. Tracking something, even starting somewhere with the basics is helpful.

Profit Planner: It doesn't matter how big or small your business is, you still have to take a step back and evaluate.
Profit Planner: It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, you still have to take a step back and evaluate.

We even say this in the book, try some KPIs and track them for a few months. If it’s not telling you anything and you’re not learning anything from it, ditch it. Use a different one.

Can you give us some ideas of KPIs other than profit and loss, which are the basic ones or profit and expenses? What are some other financial KPI’s that people might want to look at?

If you are a product-based business, you’ll want to look at your margin or your profit by product, by individual item. We had a client that we were working with in 2018 and she sold a ton of wine stoppers. We did an analysis of all of the products within her store. These wine stoppers she’s sold a ton of, she actually was making cents per wine stopper, but what we found is that for every wine stopper she sold, they were usually sold with something else. They were such a driver. People were coming in to find these wine stoppers. It actually looked like you were pouring wine out of a dog’s mouth and it had every breed of dog. I wanted to give some context around it, but she found that every time somebody bought one, they were buying it with other products. She wasn’t making very much per product. When other people were buying that wine stopper, they’re actually buying other products and she was making more money on those other products. Learn how much money you make by product and then you can even analyze, “Maybe I’m not making a lot of money on that one, but am I selling it with something else?”

It’s almost like a lead magnet thing. 

That sounds like a gift with purchase to me. I like that. You’re like, “It’s worth it.”

Somebody could look at that and say, “You’re not making enough profit on this,” without looking at the bigger picture and understanding that this is actually fueling your business. It’s like what you’re saying with the lead magnet.

I’ll give you one for service-based businesses. One of the ones that we suggest a lot of our service-based businesses use is understanding if you’re profitable by client or by service line. Maybe you offer a few different services. Maybe one’s a course and one’s a mastermind and one’s one-on-one training or maybe you have a team of trainers. How much money are you making by client and then how much money are you making by service line? It is important.

That makes me think of the book, The 80/20 Principle. It’s a principle that’s out there, but the book was great because it illustrated that sometimes if you’re not looking at it, you realize 20% of your clients are giving you 80% of your total gross profit or gross revenue. If you don’t analyze that, you could be keeping these people who typically tend to be the draining clients and then you’re exhausting herself. Sometimes need to shift a little to make sure you’re serving those people who are going to be supporting you and that are a good fit for your business.

For you, for your team, for your resources, all the way around. I love the way you framed that.

With the Profit Planner, who would you think is a good fit for this? Is it a good fit for somebody who already has an accountant and feels like they have a pretty good handle on their financial stuff? Is it a good fit for somebody who is literally in complete and total avoidance and has not done anything in between? How can it help those two extremes?

If you’re a business owner, if you are an entrepreneur, then it’s a good fit for you. It is. Let’s say you have nothing in place, maybe you just opened your business or maybe you’ve been in business for a few years but you have no accounting system in place. The Foundations book is going to walk you through deciding what systems to use, what systems would be a good fit for you and how to lay down those foundations, teach you the bookkeeping basics. If you are starting out with that accounting piece, definitely start with the Foundations book by the end of the twelve weeks.

We’ve heard from our readers that they are excited to go into the second one because they feel ready. They got the confidence to learn more about their financials. They’re eager to get more information. If you are somebody who has an accountant, maybe you have a bookkeeper, I still recommend you start with the Foundations because you will be amazed what you learn about your staff. It’ll give you the opportunity to evaluate your systems. Maybe one of them you put in place three years ago and it worked awesome for your business three years ago but by taking this time to reevaluate your system, you might find that there’s actually a way better tool out there for you. You can still take that time to reevaluate the foundations that you have already set for yourself. By the time you get to the second twelve weeks, you’ll be as confident and ready to kick it into high gear with all those KPIs.

It’s reminding me, there are so many things I feel in business that you never grow out of, that you constantly have to do and reevaluate and hopefully you’re a little bit savvier as you’re doing it. Maybe these things get faster and easier. These are all things that we have to do all the time. You can’t make decisions, set it, things are going well and then keep doing the same thing for ten years. Even big businesses have to make changes and adjustments. If you’re in it and regularly doing it and used to doing it, then you’re going to be able to catch when you need to make those adjustments more quickly.

I love that you said even big corporations. In my background, I worked as a corporate CFO and my job was to arm the CEO with the information that they needed to make business decisions. That’s where I learned a lot of this information. I can’t tell you how helpful it was to look at these reports and take this time every day. I call it the CEO time. It’s stepping out of your business. You’re not working in your business. You’re working on your business by taking these action steps. It’s taking this daily CEO time to evaluate what changes need to be made. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, you still have to take a step back and evaluate.

I think about all of the high-achieving coaches that I’ve worked with that I paid to have them coach me and give me support when they’re at the top of their game. I would be like, “I get my numbers every three months,” which was an improvement over, “I get my numbers right before tax season.” 

That is an improvement.

I was going to get into taxes and I was like, “I get them every three months.” They’re like, “You need to be getting them monthly at least at the minimum,” but monthly especially they were like, “How are you going to figure out if you need to adjust or change course?” I never thought of that because I’m like, “I do this thing and I’m committed.” It did show up. I would see, “If I had been tracking and on top of it, I would have probably had to talk with or let go of an employee a lot earlier,” because of retention or something. It’s those things where you’re like, “I’m investing in a program or advertising or something,” and you realize there is absolutely no ROI here, so I need to be questioning it. It is a good thing for people to hear because sometimes we think, “Why do I need it? What is knowing my P&L going to tell me that I don’t need to know right before taxes?”

You nailed it though because by looking at last month’s P&L, first of all, if you’re profitable, then maybe it’s time to make some investments so you’re not paying so much in taxes. If you’re operating at a loss, then maybe it’s time to cut that fancy software that you’re using or your admin help, whatever it might be, but you can make that decision quickly. We’ve also laid out in the planner a weekly dashboard, which I think monthly is fantastic. I’m going to challenge you to do weekly. This weekly dashboard is fantastic. We had a client in 2019, she was using our Profit Planner Financials, our second book that launched. She was doing the weekly dashboard and she had launched a new service line in her business. It was requiring her to bring on additional contractors and vendors. She was also invoicing her clients and giving her clients terms, which mean her clients could pay her in 30 days after she did the work. Her team, she had to pay her contractors and her clients weren’t paying her for 30, 60 days.

As she was filling out this dashboard every week, she realized her cash balance was decreasing. Her loans were going up. She wasn’t collecting money as fast as she thought she would. She owed her contractors all this money. Thank God she was doing this exercise. She said, “If I hadn’t been using the planner, I would have let this go on for months and months.” She goes, “Within the timeframe of the three months that I completed the planner, I realized I have to shut that side of my business down and I am not doing this anymore because it is depleting my business and my resources.” That’s the power of doing something on a weekly basis.

I’m at year nine, I feel I kept hearing your ten is when I got to have my things together. I feel good about this. I am totally switching to weekly.

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less
The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less

The kicker with all of this is that it feels so stressful and overwhelming and that’s why we all avoid it. Yet when there are so many resources, like your planner, hiring somebody, all these different things that actually when you start doing that, you feel so much less stressed out. You feel so much better about it.

You do get empowered. When I talk to people like you, you’re not coming from a place of judgment or shame and you’re trying to help somebody and make better decisions, it does feel like, “This would be such a good thing for me to invest in.” More than that course, probably hire a financial planner.

It’s so true and it helps you get the confidence to invest back in your business. We had a client here, she had an outdoor market and she was so nervous about getting us involved in her financials. She’s like, “I’m so embarrassed. I don’t even want to know how my market is doing. Please don’t tell me. I just need these numbers.” We made her look at them. We got her the numbers. Here she found out how great she was doing. She ended up expanding the market. She invested in another area in the city and now she has two markets and they’re both bigger. Had she been too afraid to look at the numbers, she wouldn’t have gotten the confidence that she needed to keep investing and growing.

The other thing from a psychological standpoint that I’m thinking about because I do think that money is such an emotional issue. There are the actual numbers, you can be great at numbers, but it’s the emotional piece. The thing is how we learn, it’s better to do it slow and steady, incrementally. I definitely am a believer in outsourcing so I definitely outsource all that stuff. As far as you said, you’re still the business owner and you have to use those numbers to make decisions. The nice thing about the planner as opposed to getting this fire hose of information or going to a one-day thing or reading a whole entire book in a weekend and feeling like I have to now implement all of it. I know personally, I read Profit First years ago. That’s very overwhelming. The idea of incrementally getting that information and building the competence and then you’re building on top of it, that’s probably why it’s going to be so effective for people and why they’re having those things like, “I feel better about this now,” because psychologically, that is how we learn.

I’m glad you said that. It’s easier than taking a fire hose. I don’t know about you but I read a book and first of all, I want to go start the next book.

I was like, “I’m going to read 52 books this year. I won’t integrate one of them.”

This gives you the time to integrate it. You can still read a book while you do the Profit Planner. You can do both. I got all you multitaskers out there.

Where can people go to get the Profit Planner if they want to do that?

The is the best place to get the Profit Planner. I would like to gift to all of your audience a 15% off code, Biz Bestie, if you’re interested.

We should get both of them, the Foundations and the Financials. Thank you very much. If people wanted to learn more about you and Kickstart Accounting, where should they do that?

I hang out on Facebook, Danielle Hayden and then Kickstart Accounting Inc. Come join us on Facebook. I love hanging out with all you amazing entrepreneurs and starting the conversation there.

Thank you so much. This was good and I personally feel even more empowered when I talk about this stuff. I’m guessing our audience is going to have the same feeling.

Take one action task. Every reader who has read this podcast, I would love for your one task to go purchase the profit planner so that you can start that. If you don’t take that one action step, take one action step today and every day to look at your financials and to own your role in your business.

Thank you so much. 

Thanks for having me.

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MBB 80 | Profit Planner

As a Chief Financial Officer for over 10 years I loved accounting but felt like something was missing while just helping investors and board of directors of large companies.

That’s when I realized I had a certain thrill for helping entrepreneurs, especially women, who were breaking the rules of business in order to create something amazing – something the rest of the world didn’t expect them to do.

We are passionate about helping entrepreneurs take accounting off their plate, get confident about their bookkeeping and finally understand their financials.

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