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Hattie introduces Jim Schell and the first of the seven key ideas within this episode. How do you answer the question, "How's ...
Tags:business tips,hattie bryant,jim schell,small business advice,small business school,understanding your financial statements
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This is an excerpt from Small Business School, the series on PDS.
Hattie: Hi, I’m Hattie Bryant. Today, you will meet Jim Schell. He started and sold four businesses and in his retirement. He stays busy advising business owners. He is the author of six books and the co-author of Small Business for Dummies. His newest book, Understanding Your Financial Statements is my favorite. We’ll also take you inside three very small companies that have a fully automated accounting system.
Jim: If you are let say a cabinet maker and you decide you can make the nest cabinets in your community. You open a business and yet you don’t understand that cabinet making is a very small part of opening a business and one you open that door, hang out your shingle. You’re no longer a cabinetmaker you are a businessman who happens to make cabinet. It’s part of the DNA of a small business owner or entrepreneur is ask this small owner to house business and he will always tell you, “Sales are up.” So how big is your business? And he will always say, “Million dollars in sales.” He will never say, “Made a hundred thousand dollars last year” or “Made a return on sales at 10%.” Never hear that.
How big is your company? I mean, so what’s —.
Hattie: That’s one of your goals then as the mentor, teacher, coach to small businesses and that is to get us to measure ourselves with the more real numbers.
Jim: Yes, focus on return on sales for instance. How much are you making a? Sell a dollar do you make a nickel, dime, 15cents? Focus on current ratio. Your balance you figure focus on debt to equity. Increasing what you own as a post through. You have to pick something to focus on and the reason you have to do it is because you thought Hattie about making a game out of it?
Jim: A game is watching these numbers improved.
Jim: And everybody understands it.
Hattie: You’ve told me I need to close my books every month. When then do I need those numbers available to me?
Jim: Approximately right now is better than exactly right later on. What that means is that the fresher your figures the more useful they are to you. The typical for a business problem we generate those number maybe 15 to 20 days after the end of the month. By then the numbers recalled the knowledgeable small businesses will generate approximately right numbers five days after work.
Hattie: Now let’s meet Noel Hanson, a 35—year veteran business owner who told us about his experience with new software.
Noel: I don’t have a CPA in this company. I don’t even want one. I don’t need it. It’s kind of like, running a car. I just need to know how to turn it on and driving. I don’t need to know how it works, and I feel the same way about the software. I just want to be able to turn it on, use it, and give me what I want.
Hattie: Located in Pasadena, California. Noel’s business, Hanson and Company provides consulting to non-profits with the team of four on the payroll.
Noel I’m actually going to set up a separate set of books which I can do with this, so I can tract it which is good for audit purposes because then I give it to my accounts they can perform the audit down it, and I could provide the audit to the city very, very useful tool for me.
Hattie: And this is the first green house that you built?
Chris: Yeah, but we built all of it.
Hattie: Chris Shati and his wife Joni started their business, Texoma Lawn and Garden in w1994 and now have five to ten employees depending upon the session. Located in Vernon, Texas they recruited their son Michael to install new accounting software.
Michael: That only took maybe about an hour to get it all down, but then after that the Wizards helped you out a lot. All it’s just fairly simple and they can do it without a kid like me.
Hattie: Okay, so one of the things I did read in the book is that you made the comment that, “No consultant is worth their assault in working with a small business unless the first thing they do is walk into the business and say, “Let me see your financials.”
Hattie: What if you say “Let me see your financials.” and they say, “Well, here is my set of invoices in, here is my stock of bills and that’s what I have.” I mean it’s a cash register mentality, right? What would you say to me?
Jim: This has happened. I guess I would figure out whether I really want to help here or not. If I didn’t I would say, “I can’t help you without your financial status”