Business Builders Blog

Category: Get Confident in Your Numbers

Are your employees stealing from you?

The latest statistics on fraud should send a big jolt of fear into small business owners. According to an embezzlement survey by HISCOX, a specialty insurance company, 80 percent of embezzlements occurred at small businesses — defined as those with less than 150 employees — and 30 percent of embezzlements involved a loss of more than $500,000.    

The first time I witnessed someone stealing money from a company I was shocked and dismayed.  I couldn’t believe that someone in the financial management field could be so unscrupulous – after all, by nature of their job in accounting, they are the gatekeeper of a company’s money. 

At the time I was 29, and that experience opened my eyes to understanding that having financial controls in place is critically important.  In the years since I’ve seen many instances where a company’s lack of controls has resulted in people stealing from them.

In this time when more and more work is being done remotely, including paying vendors and processing payroll, it’s critical that you have controls and processes in place to avoid this happening to you.

In today’s video, I share simple practices and processes to help you avoid accounting fraud and stealing in your business.

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The Story Your Numbers Tell

My client, Bob, called saying, “I’m a little freaked out, and I need your help.” He continued, “I’ve been working my butt off to get my revenue up, but my bottom line profit is dropping.”

If you’ve ever experienced your revenue increasing, but your bottom line staying flat, or worst yet declining, then you can probably relate to why Bob was freaking out.

Making a consistent profit can be a common problem for many contractors, but it doesn’t have to be your problem.

When things like this happen, I tell clients to start with the data. Numbers always tell a story. So Bob and I sat down together armed the company’s profit and loss reports.

Sure enough, he was right. Revenue was steadily increasing, but the gross profit margin had been falling little by little from 30% a few years ago, to 27%, to 25% this year.

Contractors live and die by gross profit margin, so this decrease was worth a closer look.

If you’re working super hard, but you’re just not seeing the results you want, keep reading. I’ll explain to you why this happens, and then, what you can do to change it.  We’re going to talk today about what causes gross profit margins to drop, how to avoid “overhead creep”,  and how to price for increased profits.

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My Move to Kansas – The Struggle and Learning

When we had our first open house on March 15th and then were put under a “shelter in place order” on March 17th, I just assumed we’d be staying in California for at least another six months.

The universe had a different plan. 

A week after our first open house, with no more showings, we got an offer that was exactly the price we said we’d be delighted with, so we took it.

While I anticipated moving across the country would be an adjustment, I never thought these past four months would play out as they have.

Those first two months were filled with a flurry of packing, and helping clients navigate PPP borrowing along with the many other changes they were instantly facing with regards to their teams, and their bottom line.  I was grateful to be fully consumed with these projects as it barely allowed me to notice the fact that I couldn’t go anywhere or see anyone.

On May 16th my husband Tim and I flew from California to Kansas with our dog Nica, full of optimism and hope for finding and settling into a new home.  Tim is originally from Kansas, so for him settling in was easy – this is home.  For me, I instantly felt the press of being a stranger in a foreign land.  Not wanting to succumb to feelings of sadness and loss as I felt the distance and isolation from everything I knew, I kept myself very busy with client work and finding a place to live.

In the back of my mind, I kept thinking to myself “it will all feel more “normal” and I’ll be more settled when we’re in our new house and I can set up my office.”  And at the same time, I knew there was more to it.

The truth was, there was this sense of loss that went beyond leaving my office of 27 years or moving out of the state I’d lived in for 40 years.  There was something else stirring in me.

It wasn’t until after we moved into our new home, all the boxes were unpacked, pictures hung, yard mowed, and the first pot of sauce and meatballs made (cooking is one of the ways I nest 😊) that I realized that unsettled feeling was not going away.

It was time to face it head-on…


Clarity + Confidence = Control

It was a simple question… “How’s your year going?” As I watched his expression change and heard the strain in Bob’s voice as he spoke, the angst was palpable.

“Nearly a whole month of not being able to work on projects, and a slow start back, with unexpected setbacks dictated by circumstances out of my control, has taken its toll,” he said slowly.  His eyes reflected defeat.  As we talked it was evident Bob felt a lack of control in his business.

Almost every business owner I’ve talked with over the past two months can relate to this experience at some level.  (more…)

What Really Drives Profits

Running a business is never easy. Just thinking about all the necessary elements of a successful company can become overwhelming. That said, becoming a profitable business shouldn’t be an overly complex or stressful experience. In the contracting industry, far too many companies make a critical mistake which only perpetuates this stress. When it comes to truly becoming profitable as a contractor, there is no substitute for the value of understanding the critical elements of your business. In my book, The Profit Bleed, I make it my goal to help contractors understand a handful of key numbers which can make or break their business. If you are tired of being perpetually exhausted and spend day after day stressing over a lack of adequate cash flow or organizational tension, numbers may be the solution.


Controlling Cash Flow – 2 numbers you need to know

The one report I see most business owners don’t look at very often, if ever, is their business is the Balance Sheet. It’s not because they’re lazy or don’t care. Mostly it’s because they don’t know what exactly the numbers mean, or how to use the information in a useful way.

Can you relate?

Your Balance Sheet is a powerful management tool if you know how to read and interpret what the numbers are telling you.  In fact – two key numbers.  Just like having the right tools when working on a project can help you produce better results, the same is true of your company’s financial reports.

What kind of results? Sufficient cash in the bank when you need and want it.  Cash reserves on hand when unexpected events occur – like a pandemic or downturn in the economy. While no one could have predicted a pandemic, the clients I work with who have cash reserves did and will continue to fair much better during this time than those who didn’t.

In this week’s video, I walk you through how to read and use your Balance Sheet as a powerful management tool.  I show you the 2 most important numbers to look at that will let you keep your finger on the pulse of your company’s financial health.  In the process, you’ll learn what targets successful contractors use in their business to manage these numbers.


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