PP 040: Amy Bradbury from Numbers Done Differently
Amy and I have a blast discussing the numbers in our business which NEED to be tracked, the joys of being a mompreneur, and what helps us be and feel the most productivity.
.@AmyABradbury and @thekimsutton have a blast discussing the numbers in our business which NEED to be tracked, the joys of being a #mompreneur, and what helps us be and feel the most #productivity. http://www.thekimsutton.com/pp040 #podcast #positiveproductivityClick To Tweet
KIM: Welcome back to another episode of Positive Productivity! This is your host, Kim Sutton, and today I’m thrilled to have Amy Bradbury from Numbers Done Differently with us. Welcome, Amy!
AMY: Hi, Kim, I’m so thrilled to be here with you.
KIM: Oh, I am thrilled to have you here as well. And listeners, you know I’ve mentioned it before – and I promise it will be coming out in the near future – the blooper reel will be coming out. And already, I think we’re like two seconds into this recording. Already, I’ve added like five more clips to the blooper reel. Thank goodness for editors! At least we know we’re going to have fun on this one.
AMY: For sure, for sure.
KIM: Yeah, already laughing. Amy is, as I already mentioned, the CEO and founder of Numbers Done Differently, where she helps entrepreneurs see their numbers differently.
AMY, I definitely want you to talk about this – and while you’re talking about it, can you share with listeners what your journey has been and more about what you are doing now?
AMY: Absolutely, yeah. I started a bookkeeping practice 13 years ago after feeling locked in a cubicle at the CPA for where I was working, doing taxes, and just feeling like I needed to break out and have some freedom. And I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew that I was really good at QuickBooks, and talking to clients, and so I said, “Well, why not? I’m just going to go start my business.”
So that was 13 years ago, and we’ve gone through many, many, many different… “phases” of that business, shall we say. And through that journey, I learned a lot about entrepreneurs and working with them so closely in their businesses – and especially with the online entrepreneur, which is one of the markets that we specifically service.
And what I learned is, first of all, there’s a couple of different categories of entrepreneurs when it comes to their numbers. So they either – they don’t look at their numbers because they don’t even know what to look at, and it’s just this overwhelming mess of information. And they even if they look at it, they don’t really know how to use it in their business, or what to do with it, or what questions to ask. There’s just this whole big source of not knowing right and not understanding.
And then you have another category of entrepreneurs who – they maybe have questions about their business, and so they try and look at their numbers – but they’re not even really sure if the numbers that they’re looking at are accurate because they don’t have a team in place that they trust to take care of the numbers for them.
And once they have a financial report in front of them, it’s not really the whole picture of their business. So it’s like, “Well, I also need to have my marketing information, and I also need have my social media information, and I also need to have information from my shopping cart, and all of this stuff compiled.” And then it turns into so many numbers to look at, that it’s like, “Well, I don’t have all day to sit and look at my numbers. I need to go make sales and build a business.”
KIM: Oh, my gosh – the numbers I look at are my bank account and my PayPal account.
AMY: Yup, yup – and that’s great.
KIM: Just to make sure they’re black and not red.
AMY: That’s right, that’s a good start, right? I mean, that’s a good place to look at, for sure.
KIM: But I suppose that’s why we have another appointment coming up!
AMY: One hundred percent. But you know, you’re ahead of a lot of people who don’t even look at that, because… And sometimes it’s that you’re not looking at your numbers, because you don’t really want to know what they say – because a lot of us in our businesses go through periods of not feeling like we have enough money, or that there’s enough sales, or that there’s enough profit, or whatever the lack is that we’re feeling. And so looking at the numbers kind of “cements” that for some people.
But what I actually find is, when people look at their numbers more, the numbers are actually better than they think – most of the time. Most of my clients come in and they’re like, “Oh, I just don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m totally broke, and I don’t have any money coming in.” And when we dig in and look at the numbers, I’m like, “Oh, you have plenty of money coming in, like that’s not the problem. Let’s look at what the actual problem is.”
And so most times, the situation is actually better than they thought, and they can identify that by actually looking at the numbers – which is super powerful.
KIM: I think that is such an interesting point. And I just have to use a personal example: Last year, I was astounded – because I am still guilty of doing my taxes myself. I can hear the groan out there. I was astounded by actually the revenue that was brought in, but I had no idea until I did my taxes how much money had gone out for contractor expenses.
AMY: Oh, yes.
KIM: And then I saw my personal income, and I was shocked. I was like, “Well, no wonder it hurt just a little bit throughout the year.”
AMY: Absolutely, absolutely. And then you look at how much you’re paying your team, and you’re like, “Oh, my gosh – I’m paying my team like twice as much money as I’m being paid. Like, how come there isn’t more money left over for me at the end of the month?”
KIM: Absolutely. Yeah, I paid some team members more than I paid myself last year.
AMY: Absolutely. And it’s not to say that those team members aren’t valuable contributors to your team and that they don’t deserve to be paid well for the job that they’re doing. But there has to be a way to set up your business so that you know what those expenses are, so that you can start from – I’m going to actually talk about this in a second – but the process of how to figure out what your sales need to be. It shouldn’t start from what your team needs to be paid – it actually needs to start with you having a line item there of being paid yourself. And people skip that, a lot, and they’re like, “Well, I just kind of take what’s left over.”
And there’s a brilliant book, Profit First – which is one of my favorite books – that really addresses this issue where, if you’re not actually paying yourself a salary, you don’t just get what’s left over on you from your business. Because there will never be anything left over, right? That’s just kind of the law of the way that the money works.
And so you want to do something very similar to when we had real jobs, back in the day before we all started these crazy businesses, and you had a 401(k) plan, and they just kind of took the money out of your payroll check, and you never saw it. And it just went into this imaginary bank account, and then that’s supposed to be what you retire on and live on later in your life.
But if you think about your pay the same way, and you move it out of the business bank account super early in the process, it will be there, and there will be enough money left for all the expenses because it has to get. It all has to come out of what’s left. So anyway, that’s a whole soapbox that I could go on for hours, and hours, and hours – but you have to pay yourself as the CEO, and you should be thinking of yourself as “the CEO of the business”, not “Oh, I get what’s left at the end of the day.” You shouldn’t live on the crumbs of your business!
KIM: You totally shouldn’t. And I have 50,000 questions that just came up after that! But one of the biggest realizations for me came from a discussion with my business coach, where he was questioning me about what I was charging for services. And Amy, you and I know – because we’ve worked together on Infusionsoft services before, so you know how much some contractors pay or charge for Infusionsoft services.
AMY: Yeah, absolutely.
KIM: I was charging half of what I should been, maybe even less than half, and the contractors were getting three quarters – if not as high as 90 percent – of that.
KIM: And I wasn’t even thinking about the value of my time to go out there and secure those clients. No, I was not.
AMY: Oh, 100 percent.
KIM: Yeah. No, I wasn’t working on the client work itself, generally, but I was still using hours and hours of time – submitting proposals, and meeting with clients, and all the paperwork – and at the end of the day, maybe I was making five to $10 an hour off of all that work that I was doing.
AMY: Wow, wow.
KIM: Which is ridiculous.
AMY: I agree, I agree.
KIM: Yeah, things have changed since then, definitely.
AMY: Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. And I think that there is this – again, when you’re really looking at the numbers and looking at that kind of stuff, you can see: “Oh, wait a minute.”
And one of the ways that you can look at your numbers in a super easy way is breaking things down, client by client, and just seeing: “Okay, well how much money is this client earning me in sales? What are the expenses that are for this client, and what is the profit for this client?”
Or, you can look at it service by service – so you know, you can have tons of different things that you do in your business. You’ve got your Infusionsoft support, you have other marketing support that I know that you do, and then you have just other random stuff that you do for people – because you have such an incredible wealth of knowledge of all these things that you’ve just accumulated over the years, right?
And when you break down, maybe, “Okay, what is my Infusionsoft support versus… I don’t know – setting someone up, systematizing the back end of their business?” Or some of these other things – and breaking things down by the service, and then looking at what your expenses are, what your revenue is, and what your profit is. You didn’t really get an idea of “Wow, I shouldn’t actually be doing that anymore in my business. It’s actually costing me more money to offer that service to my clients,” or, “You know, I’ve got to raise my prices. I’ve got to cut my expenses.”
But if you’re just looking at your numbers overall in your business, sometimes some of those details can get a little bit lost. And not to say that the CEO should be the one actually doing all of this number-crunching. You definitely should have someone on your team that’s taking this information, putting this all together in a nice format, and showing it to you, and walking through it – so that you can and take that information and use it to make decisions in your business on what you’re going to do next.
KIM: Okay, you’re hired! We don’t need to talk later. Let’s go back, though, to where you were talking about all the different numbers that people need to be looking at – because I know what you were working on earlier this year. I’d love – if you’re still working on it, I’d love for you to share – if not, we’ll edit this part out.
AMY: Yeah, no I am, I am.
KIM: Okay, awesome. There’s so many numbers to look at, and it’s so important with the ROI – or the return on investment – so can you share more about that, please?
AMY: Absolutely, absolutely. So what I found in my years of working with the entrepreneurs is, there’s all these different numbers that are in your business, and they’re not all just financial. A lot of times when people are like, “You need to know your numbers,” people are like, “Oh, that means how much I spent on office supplies, and it’s all about my expenses, and if I know my numbers, that means I’m going to have to go on a budget.” Nobody likes the “B word”. And it’s just all this negative feelings around it.
But there’s actually a lot of other numbers in your business that you want to look at – things like “people that opted in for a certain opt-in report”, so like different marketing things. You want to know your numbers of your sales funnel: How many people came in the top of the sales funnel? What’s your conversion rate for every stage? How many people to get the number of people out of the bottom that you need? What’s your engagement like on your social media platforms? Where are you getting better engagement? What kinds of topics are getting better engagement for you? What’s going on with your Google Analytics?
And so people are tracking all of these numbers in all of these different places in their business. But what we created was actually a software platform called ProfitBoard that pools all the data in one place and gives you a CEO dashboard that you can use – you spend about 15 minutes a week looking at this dashboard.
And it will help you dramatically increase your revenue in your business, just by knowing all the different numbers, having them all in one place – you don’t have to spend tons of time going and hunting around for everything. You can use this on your team meetings, so when you’re working with your marketing team, you can look at your marketing dashboard and be like, “Okay, here’s what the numbers are. What are the decisions we’re making from these numbers, and how are we going to change things going forward based on these numbers?”
KIM: I’m sitting here looking to my right – not that matters which way I’m looking – but I have what’s… I forgot the name of the group, but it’s the Chalkboard Method, and it’s this whole whiteboard where I’d written down, basically, what you’re talking about – the dashboard. But in all honesty, this was written for last quarter. I mean, the cycle ended more than a month ago. So I was supposed to go in, delete all of those dates, start updating from last month – we’re in a completely new month now and I haven’t even the updated it to start recording.
AMY: Well, and who has time? I mean, who has time to do all that updating? So the beauty is of ProfitBoard: It automatically links into your software. So when you make a sale in Infusionsoft, it updates on your profit board. You don’t have to print a report out, go into a Google doc, and put it in there, put it on a whiteboard – it automatically happens. We set up all of that linkeing and that reporting. We talk with you and figure out what your goals are of your business and help you figure out what it is that you should be tracking in your business. Because as I said before, a lot of people don’t even know what numbers they should be looking at. A lot of people look at what I lovingly call – and I didn’t coin this term, but I certainly use it all the time – “vanity metrics”, which is like, “How many people like me on Facebook? How many people are on my e-mail list?” Which I actually don’t really care about. That has no significant impact on the profitability of your business. If you have 100,000 people that like you on Facebook, but you can’t actually get them to do anything when you want them to do something, it’s worthless, right?
KIM: No, it’s like talking to a brick wall.
AMY: Exactly, exactly. And you know, it’s not going to help you get any closer to your business goals. So we help you figure out – “Okay, what are my goals? What should my goals be? What numbers do I need to track to figure out how to get closer to my goals? What reports do we need to automatically pull in from all of your different software platforms?” – to create this beautiful one-stop CEO dashboard that tells you everything you need to know about your business, completely.
It’s amazing, and it’s beautiful, and it’s pretty, and it has pictures on it, and there’s little sentences that tell you things – like, “Congratulations! You hit this goal,” or, “Hey, you need to work on this” – like, my programmer has just done an amazing job with creating this platform. And my clients just – they love it, and they’re getting incredible results because it’s not looking at a ridiculously boring spreadsheet or a financial statement. It’s pictures, and pretty graphs and charts, and like a little dash – like a gas tank from your car that says, “Okay, this is what your goal is, this is how – like this is full, this is where you are.”
So you can immediately visualize where everything stands in your business. And literally, when I say 15 minutes a week, you can spend 15 minutes a week looking at this thing, and it will change your business.
KIM: I’m seeing one of those United Way Boards right now – if you’re in America, you know what I’m talking about. You know, United Way Donation Boards, looking to see how full the vial is.
AMY: Absolutely, every nonprofit has something like that when they’re doing fundraising and trying to raise money, because it’s a really nice visual of, “Okay, well this is where you are. Let’s celebrate where you are, but let’s actually have a visual representation of where the gap is between where you are and where you want to go.”
And then the other thing that we do – which is, again, this whole like “numbers differently” thing is – we actually tie in a little bit of “vision boarding” with this. Because it’s not enough for me just to have a client say, “I want to make $100,000 this year. And I would encourage everybody listening to this podcast to not do that anymore. Don’t set your goals that way. Don’t say, “I want to make $100,000 this year” – because it needs to be tied to something greater than that, or you won’t actually… Like when the going gets tough and things are hard, you’ll quit. We all do. You have to be more emotionally integrated into what that goal is.
And so instead of saying, “I want to make $100,000 a year,” the thing that I challenge my clients to do is to tell me why. What is your shopping list? What are you going to buy with that money? Why do you need it? It’s not enough just to say I want to have a balance in my bank account of $100,000 – like, that’s boring. Nobody actually cares about that, right? You want a Disney vacation, you want a certain school for your kids, you want a certain vacation with your husband or your wife, or a Dreamhouse – or whatever the visual representation is of those things.
And then I have my clients pull together images – just like you would for a vision board – put those together. And then on your ProfitBoard, as you’re looking at your numbers, and you’re looking at your sales, and you’re looking at your profit, and all this other stuff, these pictures and these images are circling through, reminding you of what your goals are and why you’re doing this. And, “Oh, yeah – that that’s the dream house that I want. How close am I to that dream house?”
And we can set up a gauge: “I need $5,000 for my Disney vacation. How much do I have?” So that you can be constantly working towards very specific goals, instead of these arbitrary numbers that people call out, because that’s what everyone on Facebook is telling them their goal should be.
KIM: You just stole my whole vision board! Well, not stole – I mean, you’ve obviously done your market research. The Disney vacation, the dream house…
KIM: Listeners, I cannot deny that. I want my own bathroom, so that potty-training toddlers stop walking in when I’m trying to go. Positive Productivity Podcast, where we get real, and stop worrying about being “perfectly proper” all the time, right?
AMY: Oh, for sure, for sure.
KIM: Before we go any further, I just realized that there are probably a whole bunch of brains exploding out there, wondering why I haven’t shared where people can find out about ProfitBoard and all the materials that we’re talking about. So listeners, I know you want to find out. Head on over to TheKimSutton.com/PP040 for Episode 40, and there you will be able to get all the show notes, all the links, the full transcript, all the great info about this episode.
So AMY, I put a post up on my Facebook page – what can ProfitBoard tell me about that post?
AMY: It can tell you if it’s in – so it’s on a page that you own, that you’re the admin of, that’s very important. So we can only track things – because of the ownership of Facebook and privacy, we can only track things that you own. So whether it’s on a page or in a group that you’re the admin of – a lot of people use a private group for marketing.
KIM: In a group, too?
AMY: If it’s your group, absolutely. Yeah, so like if you start a Positive Productivity Podcast group, we can track metrics from that group if you are the admin of the group. And we can look at how many people liked certain posts that you did, how many people commented on them. We can pool things by hashtags – so you can develop your own system internally of how you want to code your posts, so that you know which ones are getting the most engagement, the most comments, and the most likes.
And that can be really helpful for people to try and figure out, “I really want to get people to engage with me on Facebook, but I don’t know what to say to them! Like, how do I figure out what what to even say?” You can test out different topics, and you might find out that posting a cat video gets the most engagement that you can get, and nobody wants to talk to you when you ask them a question about their numbers. (I mean, that might only be my experience!)
So then you can figure out – first of all, you can figure out, “Maybe Facebook is a waste of my time, and I shouldn’t be doing anything on Facebook anyway, because I’m not getting any engagement. And there’s another channel that I’m looking at on my ProfitBoard where there’s actually activity.” So that’s one way of using it.
But the other way is really, like I said, just figuring out what kinds of information people are doing, responding to, and you know developing a conversation with you around.
And then the other thing is, to even track your goals, like, “I want to post three times a week on Facebook.” And you can have a chart that says, “Did I meet my goal?” So it’s almost like wearing your Fitbit: “Did I make my steps? Did I make my steps? Did I meet the goal of doing these three posts that I wanted to do this week?”
And then it would give you a gold star, or you know, a sad face if you didn’t do it.
KIM: Have you seen the new updates that just came out for Asana with the boards, by any chance?
AMY: I have, yes. They are so pretty. I’m so excited, because I was using Trello for a lot of stuff that I needed the visual board for – and now I might be able to put it all back into Asana, which is pretty cool. But that’s a whole other story.
KIM: But I’m just thinking, the reason why I ask is because a lot of the metrics that you just talked about like how many times I want to post a week, I have on Asana – and my board has a daily task. And you’ve just simplified it and put it all into one system.
KIM: Listeners, just so you know, while we did talk about ProfitBoard months ago, it’s been way too long since we talked, Amy.
AMY: I agree.
KIM: But I had, well, brain-farted a lot of it and just got busy with life, and I don’t know that I’ve even heard about all these great features, so this is as new to me as it is to you. And I am just so excited, and I’m not a userm but –
AMY: Yet. Not yet.
KIM: I will be in touch within seconds of hanging up this call!
AMY: Absolutely. Well, and the beautiful thing is that, when we talked originally, a lot of this stuff wasn’t part of ProfitBoard. And what I find so exciting about having my own business is that when I see that there is a need of something that somebody has, I call my developer, I’m like, “Oh, do you think…? It would be so cool if we could X-Y-Z!” And she’s like, “Oh, we could totally figure out a way how to do that.” “Okay, great.” Or she’ll call me and say, “So I was, like, poking around, and what do you think about this?”
And so we’re constantly improving the software, and constantly listening to things that our clients are doing. Because I’m talking with our clients all the time about their businesses, and about what they’re tracking, and I’m kind of keeping an eye on how they’re using their ProfitBoards, and asking them, “What questions are you using this to answer?” and “How can I make that experience better for you?” We’re constantly changing it, and we’re constantly improving net – and software and technology is constantly improving, so there’s always more things that we can do. And when you sign up for ProfitBoard, you don’t – like it’s a software-as-a-service, so you pay a subscription for it. So you get all of the updates and everything that’s a new change. You don’t have to pay extra, you know, to get those integrated back into your board, which is really cool.
KIM: Oh, that’s so phenomenal. I love it.
AMY: Yeah, it’s fun. It allows us to have a creative outlet – which sounds funny for an accountant to say that she needs a creative outlet, but – it really gives me that ability to have that creativity.
And my developer is a longtime friend of mine, funny connection that I had no idea that she even – I had no idea what her job was, because I’ve only ever known her as a stay-at-home mom, because when I met her she was a stay-at-home mom. She is a friend of – her husband and my husband are friends.
And one day I was talking to her, her kids had gone back to school, and we were having a conversation. She was saying that she wanted to get back into the workforce, and I was like, “Oh, have you ever heard of…?” She wanted to work from home, and so I was trying to help her think of things that she could do from home. And I said, “Have you ever heard of a V.A.? No? Okay.”
So I’m sending her some resources that she can look at to maybe just be a V.A. Because she wanted really flexible hours, needed to be essentially a stay-at-home mom other than when the kids were at school, and then she could work during those windows. And she was like, “Yeah,” and then she’s like, “What are you up to in your business?”
And I was like, well, “I had this idea to create this dashboard, and this is what it would look like, and I can see it in my head – but I’m not sure how it gets down on paper.” And she goes, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” And I was like, “Why? What?”
And she said, “In the last job that I had, before I left to have my kids, I programmed dashboards for rocket ships.”
And I was like, “What?! You’re literally a rocket scientist?” And she’s like, Well, I guess, yeah.” She’s very humble, but she was like, “Yeah. So I know how to tell a rocket ship if its battery’s going dead,” and I was like, “Well, certainly that’s the same thing as telling an entrepreneur if they’re going to run out of money!” And she’s like, “Yeah!”
So she came onboard and is my lead developer and has so many creative, amazing ideas of – her brain works in a totally different way than my brain works, which is totally different than the way your brain works, Kim, or my other clients. And so we’re able to bring all of these brilliant minds together to create this amazing platform. And it’s so much fun to work with her, because she’s one of my dearest friends, so it’s really been a really awesome, awesome experience.
KIM: Amy, I’m writing a book right now – the title has yet to be determined – but, you know I have chronic idea disorder.
KIM: But anyway, this book has yet to be named. I just haven’t come up with the great idea of the name yet. And last night, I was actually writing about team members, because as you were just saying, I’ve had – well you weren’t saying about heaven-sent and hell-sent team members. But I’ve had the hell-sent ones who really just were not good for my business.
AMY: Oh yeah, I’ve had a few of them, too. For sure.
KIM: Oh, it’s been fun, to say it politely. And I’ve had those heaven-sent team members who, even if we aren’t working together at the moment, always come with ideas. And I love doing that for clients that I’m not necessarily working with at the moment, either. If I see something, then I’ll share it with them and say, “Hey, I thought about you.”
KIM: But isn’t it just so amazing when you do have a relationship like that, where team members are so vested in your success? I love that. And I was going to ask you how you met your developer, and how that relationship started, but thank you for sharing.
AMY: Yeah. Turns out we were friends all along, and I had no idea. I mean I always knew she was crazy smart. We always joked that she is the smartest person that we know – and so I always knew she was really intelligent. And we had conversations about what her job was in the past, it just didn’t – it didn’t really matter, honestly. I didn’t care that she was a satellite programmer and a rocket ship programmer – that stuff, it didn’t have any… I was impressed by it, but it didn’t actually mean anything until I’m having this conversation with her about the dashboard, as she tells me that. And I was like, “You have got to be kidding me.” And of course, I call my coach, I tell my coach this whole conversation, and my coach goes, “Of course. Of course the universe brought you the perfect developer. Like, of course that happened.” And I was like, “Oh, yeah. I need to start just living my life in a way that I just say, ‘Of course these miracles happen to me all the time.’ ” Right? Like of course when I’m in flow, things just show up that I need. It was really cool!
KIM: You are ripping questions right out of my head! I was about to ask you about the universe, and fate, and you know – do you believe in it? Well, you just took care of that question.
AMY: 100%. 100%. Yeah, and I can look back over the journey that I had over the 13 years in my business. And I tried to do a lot of different things, like I learned about this whole world of you know the marketing business, where you can have passive income, and make money in your sleep, and make money while you’re sipping piña coladas on the beach. And I was – as a ridiculously overworked, overtired, run-down accountant, bookkeeper, CFO, or whatever – I was like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s so attractive.”
And so I tried for a long time to do a lot of different things that would be passive revenue, and none of them worked. None of them worked, because I learned that people didn’t want to just buy a program about their numbers. They wanted me to do their numbers for them. And so I built different types of leverage into my business by hiring a team, and figuring out – getting so clear on what it is that my clients want and the results we’re able to get them, so I could increase my package prices.
And we provide a premium level of service to our clients, so I don’t have to work with nearly the number of clients that I had to work with in the past to meet my numbers. And so I have that space.
When you were talking about having ideas for clients that you’re not even working with anymore – you can’t have that if every single minute of 24 hours of every day is so scheduled, and you’re so tight on working with every client. Like, you need some time to just think, and take a walk, and meditate, and go to a yoga class, and do all of that stuff – and have that space in your schedule.
And you know, I consider that stuff to be just as productive time in my calendar as the time that I’m actually sitting at my computer reconciling somebody’s bank statement, or creating some complicated spreadsheet for them, because that’s where the ideas and the creativity come.
So being able to get clear on – “Well, you know what? It’s okay that this part – this version of leverage doesn’t work for me, but I’m going to figure out a way, I still have these goals on my vision board, and I’m going to figure out a different way to make them happen” – has been a really fun journey. And when I look back on it, I think, “Okay, I see now why that happened. I see now why that happened, because – because of that, I had this experience, which now has led me to this next step.” It’s really interesting when you go back and look at it that way.
KIM: Oh, yeah. And I can totally see how opening up your space by you know cutting down the number of clients in your work load and all of those extras that you’re doing can open up so much more creativity. I cannot deny, also, just saying that last night when I was working on the book and writing about the team members, it was the second time in a week that I’ve actually marathon-watched all four of the Hunger Games videos.
AMY: Oh, nice!
KIM: Yeah, and it had been forever – before last weekend – when I actually sat down and watched anything besides Mickey Mouse Club and Daniel Tiger. I’ve had enough of those! But I still manage. By giving myself that space last night, I think I wrote three- to four-thousand words.
AMY: Yep, that’s a lot.
KIM: It was a lot. It got me back on track with my goals. Yeah, I mean, it’s not – for me, it’s not an issue of not having the audience. It’s having the time to sit down when I’m not working on client work to actually work on those projects.
AMY: Absolutely. And I think as a service provider, that’s the hardest thing in our businesses to balance, right? Is that like, “Okay, well right now, I’m working on your business – but I really should be working on my business, and how do I make sure that I have enough time to work on my business?”
And I don’t know if you know about Steven Pressfield’s work, but he writes amazing stuff about resistance, and the things that we do when we’re in resistance. And I have totally identified that my resistance – like when I’m getting ready to write something, that’s maybe a blog post that I’m going to send out, that might be a little bit scary, and I’m kind of like, “Oh, I don’t know, I’m kind of put myself out there here.”
I’ll be like, “You know what? I have some client work I need to finish before I do this.” And so my default is like, “Oh, let me go and work on client work instead of working on my business.”
And it’s a struggle every day to say, “Okay, you know what? It’s Okay. My deadline is Friday. I have until Friday, I have plenty of say my calendar to get that done. Right now, this is what I need to be focused on.” And it’s exhausting, some days – I’m not going to lie. Some days I’m like, “I don’t even want to – I’m just going to go back and do taxes for an accounting firm and just not even do this anymore. Like, forget it.”
And then I look on Facebook at the posts of people who are sitting in traffic for an hour to get home from work, and I’m able to walk to my son’s school and bring him home from school, and I think, “Okay, never mind. No, I am committed to doing this!”
KIM: Oh, I will do anything I have to to not have the eagle-eye watching how long I just spent on my lunch break.
AMY: Yes! Oh, my gosh. I cannot imagine. I really – you know, when I first had – I only have one son, Gibson, he’s 6 years old. And I remember looking back when I – I’ve had my business 13 years, and he’s six. So I had my business before I had my husband, before I had my child, like it was my first big major commitment in my life.
And I remember when I got pregnant with him, a lot of my friends still worked in corporate America, and they were like, “Oh, how much maternity leave are you taking?” I was like, “Uh, I don’t know what that means. Like what do you mean ‘maternity leave’? Like, I’m not going to work?” And they were like, “Yeah, you have like six weeks of time!” And I thought, “There’s no way that I can ‘not work’ for six weeks.”
First of all, because I like working, and I enjoy it – and I don’t want to just “not work” for six weeks. But also because I have all this client work that needs to get done, and the blessing and the curse of bookkeeping, and numbers, and money is that there’s always new information. The business is always – someone else’s business is always making sales and generating expenses, so there’s always something more for me to do for them.
And I remember saying to them, “I don’t think I’m going to take a maternity leave.” And they were like, “That’s insane,” and I was like, “I don’t need to.” Because I can get up and work for a couple of hours in the morning, have someone come to the house, put Gibson down for a nap, and then when he wakes up, have someone come into the house to sit in the other room with him while I work for a while.
And we made that work for over a year when he was a baby, because it was important to me that – that was the way that I wanted to be a parent. And I watched my friends having to go back to work full-time when their baby is like six weeks old. And I just think, “I just can’t – I can’t imagine.” And the laws in this country, and the things that we do for mothers in this country is a whole other soapbox, and a whole other story – and a whole other feminist rant that I could go on.
But at the end of the day, it’s like – you have to design your life around what you really want and what’s really important to you. And I agree with you, Kim. I could never go back, and have a job, and have somebody say, “Oh, I’m sorry that your son’s sick, but you don’t have any more sick days. You can’t take the day off. You have to figure something else out.” Like, what do you mean? What? No!
KIM: No, absolutely not. And actually, the only the only “maternity leave” that I took with my littles in starting the business was because I was just so uncomfortable. I mean, with the twins – they’ll be two in just actually a month.
AMY: Oh, my gosh, two years old already! Holy cow.
KIM: I know! By the time they were born – and listeners, they were born in January of 2015 – by the time they were born, that Christmas I was competing with Santa. I had a sixty-inch waist.
But by the time they were born, I could not use my computer really, except for the fact that my husband had gotten me a wireless keyboard that I could place on my belly.
AMY: On your belly, on the shelf!
KIM: Yes, exactly, because I couldn’t reach my desk if I was sitting in my chair. Plus, it was just so uncomfortable. After they were born, the only reason I wasn’t working – I mean, I was back to work within two, about two months after they were born, because I love what I do. And you couldn’t keep me away any longer.
KIM: But the only reason I didn’t work before then was because I had them permanently attached – one on one side and one on the other. I mean, poor Nevaeh, three years old – I think I put a keyboard on her head, while I was feeding her, just so I could go back to work. There’s probably a picture somewhere!
AMY: I had a whole system rigged up with Gibson so I could nurse at my desk, and type, and do conference calls. And I closed one of the biggest deals in the history of my company. I closed.
I didn’t get – my sitter canceled for the day (f course, because that is typical of what happens when you have something really important going on in your business). And so my sitter canceled, so I was like, “It’s totally fine. If I nurse him, he’ll be quiet while I’m on the call.” Because it was bad timing, and of course, when he was awake.
So I’m nursing him, his diaper explodes all over me, and he threw up on me. And in the meantime – so I’m just kind of sitting in all of that and closed the deal. And I closed the deal, I close the deal. And I was like, “Okay.” And I kind of looked down, and I was like, “I guess this is modern motherhood, and I guess this is what I wanted.”
KIM: That’s so awesome.
AMY: And then I probably collapsed into tears, I’m sure at some point, not too far after that. “Wha- I can’t do that!” You know?
But I look back, and I laugh – and the client had no idea that I even had a child home with me, and I would just mute myself. You know what? It worked out fine. And I don’t know, I just think it’s such a blessing to be able to structure these businesses in the way that we want to have them with our families, too.
KIM: Well, we totally tried to have the twins – all three of the littles, actually – at home with us after the twins were born. But there was one client who, no joke, one of the twins would start screaming every time we got a call together.
AMY: Every time. Every time, right.
KIM: Yes, and then there’s that case where they go into daycare, or they go to school, and they start catching everything imaginable.
AMY: Oh, my God. And then they bring all of that home to you and get everybody else sick. It’s so gross.
KIM: Oh, yeah. Pinkeye is the house favorite.
AMY: Oh, yeah.
KIM: Sorry, listeners – Positive Productivity Podcast, where you talk about kids putting their hands in the poopy diapers!
But I’m going to circle back around, because I do have a burning question, and it has to do with numbers. (And I’m not talking about the number that went into the diaper!). Wasn’t that a good segue?
AMY: I love it, I love it!
KIM: So, I struggle with this, and I know I am not alone. Money comes into PayPal, or money comes into the bank account, and I have been so guilty about not having a formal way to feed myself. Please tell me, and other listeners, what we should be doing as far as paying ourselves in a way that won’t get us in trouble with our local tax authorities.
KIM: And I know that you know you’re not on the record as our official accounting advisor (so listeners, you know this is just a recommendation).
AMY: Absolutely, and you should go and check with your own personal tax adviser. But yeah, you’re right, Kim. This is the most common – if you had to say, “What is the most common problem that you see that entrepreneurs have with their businesses and with their money and their finances?” I would say that they don’t pay themselves. Overwhelmingly.
And there is so much business satisfaction that we get out of just having a business, and the freedom, and all of that other stuff that’s really not tangible that we’re talking about. But at the end of the day, you need to pay your groceries, you need to pay your mortgage, you need to pay your rent. You’ve got to have money for Christmas, and the Disney vacation, and all of that other stuff. And so there’s actually a couple of easy, quick-and-dirty ways that you can do this.
The first thing that you can do is set up a separate bank account – that can still be in the business name, totally fine. And every deposit that goes into your account – maybe not everyday, but maybe every Friday – total up what the deposits were for the week, and take 10 percent of that number and put it the other bank account. And just move it. Move it out of your business bank account, out of your PayPal account, and into the separate checking account.
KIM: Should we write ourselves a check?
AMY: You can, you can. You can figure out what, from a tax perspective – talk to your tax person – that like, “Okay, now this is the bucket of money that I can use to pay myself. Do I need to be on a payroll check? Do I take distributions? Like, how do I get the money from there?” But at least the process of moving it out of your business account with the intention in your head, “I’m paying myself first. Move it out of there.” And then that can become your money.
And then it becomes very easy – when you want to put yourself onto a payroll or something regular, you’re already in the habit of having that like 10 percent at the top already set aside for yourself. So that’s one quick, easy way.
The second thing I would say is, you need to know how much money you actually need to pay yourself. And so there’s a lot of – there’s a huge benefit to having clarity – just on the numbers, just in general in your business, of course, overall. But you can do a really fun exercise that –
Actually, you know what, Kim? I have a little mini-course on this that I would be happy to share with your listeners –
KIM: Yes, please.
AMY: – that will actually walk them through this whole entire process, step-by-step. So I call it “Profit-Fueled Life,” and it’s the idea of: Everybody focuses too much on the sales of their business, but you actually need profit to fuel your life. Everything that you want to do in your business, everything you want to do personally – it comes from the profit in your business. So we need to figure out how much you need to have for that, so that then you can build your sales numbers and your revenue targets accordingly.
So let me walk you through, just a quick-and-dirty. So, what I walk you through in this exercise is a “good-better-best” of your life.
So what is good? “Okay, I have a cleaning lady that comes once a month.” How much does that cost? Okay, what would be better than that? “A cleaning lady – or a cleaning person, sorry – cleaning company that comes every other week.” Great, how much does that cost? Okay, what would be an upgrade from that? “A cleaning person that comes every week.” Okay, how much does that cost?
And you basically go through this exercise and dream of – it’s a really fun exercise to do with your partner, and a glass of wine, and just a real chill, fun thing in front of a fireplace. And you go through, and you kind of sketch out: what would your ideal life look like? What’s a good – what’s good for your life right now? And how much does that cost?
And the number is probably a lot less than you think, to have a lot of things that you think are huge, extravagant upgrades. And then, you can see what that number is and say, “Oh, okay, my business needs to bring me $85,000 this year. And I can live this amazing life, where I have a cleaning service that comes once a week, I have a massage person that comes to my house” – like, whatever that looks like for you – “I need $85,000.” Okay, great.
Now we take that number, and we put it in as the bottom of the equation for your business. Okay, “Kim – CEO pay: $85,000”. And then all the other numbers of your business get built up from there. And then, that’s how you can figure out what your sales actually need to be in your business. It has nothing to do with, “I want to have a six-figure business.” “I want to have a seven-figure business.” Make it tied to, “This is how much money I need to run my life the way that I want to run my life,” and then set your sales goals accordingly.
KIM: I have to confess, I being so restricted in how many jokes I would like to make about the cleaning person. Oh, boy. My husband and I – I don’t know if you just heard him, he snickered behind me. Because I know we would have different opinions about that cleaning person or that massage therapist who comes to the house.
AMY: Sure, sure. Well, and you know, when I do this with my husband, there are things that he says, “Oh, really? A massage person needs to come to the house?” And I’m like, “Yes? And, what would you like your shopping budget to be every month for Banana Republic and Johnson & Murphy?”
Because he really likes clothes, and he works outside of the house, and so he likes to have – like I don’t care if I wear… I have like six pairs of yoga pants, we rotate through them. Like, I don’t have a huge clothing budget, because I don’t leave my house very often. But he does, and he really likes nice clothes. And I’m like, “Okay, you might snicker at my massage therapist, but how much do you want for your Banana Republic and your Johnson & Murphy?” And he’s like, “Oh, I get a line item in here, too?” And it’s like, “Heck, yeah!”
This is for – this isn’t just for you, individually. It can be for your entire family or your entire household: What are the goals that you have? To just know what that number needs to be, there is so much power in having clarity of knowing, “For $85,000 a year, I can live my dream life.” And it’s like, “Wow. That’s not that much money! I can totally make $85,000 a year.” Right? And then you could just build everything backwards to get to that number.
But if you have no idea how much you need to make, you’re setting all of your goals arbitrarily, and you’re never… You may or may not ever hit them, and it doesn’t even really matter, because you don’t even know if it’s the amount of money that you need to live your life.
KIM: Oh, absolutely. And listeners, we’re going to make sure to get that free mini-course – wait, is it free?
AMY: Oh, for sure. Oh, absolutely, absolutely.
KIM: Yeah. We’ll put that link into the show notes. And again, that’s at TheKimSutton.com/PP040. Another tool that I found in – sorry to take the light away from you for a second –
AMY: No, please, please.
KIM: – was “Every Dollar”, which is one of Dave Ramsey’s tools.
AMY: Oh, yeah.
KIM: It does come in a free version, but I – you know, it’s meant to help you figure out your personal budget, but I even put it on my business expenses. But that’s another one – just like my chalkboard method board here, it has been looked at in months, so… But with that said, I was – one of the things that we did this past summer was actually hired a lawn service or a lawn guy to mow the lawn. Because it’s amazing – he didn’t charge nearly as much as they thought he would, and he got the lawn mowed in about five minutes. Coincidentally, he would often come when I was trying to record podcasts
AMY: All the time. Every time. They always do, they always do.
KIM: But he’s on a riding mower, he gets it done in about five to 10 minutes, saves my husband (because I tried mowing once, didn’t go very well) – but saves my husband lots of time, I don’t even want to put a time on that, and allows us both to be productive.
AMY: Absolutely. And you’re helping that person with their business, right? You’re giving that person an opportunity and economic opportunity to earn money from you, and they’re able to do it in a way – like, talk about productivity. It takes him five minutes to do your lawn. He’s making great money, I’m sure, for five minutes’ worth of work. I mean I pay my lawn guys – I think 40 or 50 bucks when they come to mow – and it takes them… I mean they’re making a very good hourly, you know, if you look at it on the hourly basis versus how long it’d take.
It’s worth every penny for me never to have to think about when the lawn’s going to be mowed because they just show up every Wednesday and do it. And I love the fact that I’m supporting a local business by hiring them to do that thing for me, and I think I feel the same way about a cleaning service, about my local massage, my facials, all the self-care the stuff that I do, yoga classes – like I’m supporting another small business by doing this and by putting this in my budget.
And then you don’t even have to worry about it. And then again, one less thing floating around in your head that has to be done – it can make you so much more productive, because you’re not worrying about all those different things.
KIM: Oh, yeah. And we put the budget in there for chores, because then I don’t have to worry about the dishes or the laundry, either.
AMY: Yep, yep. Brilliant, brilliant.
KIM: Have you read “Think and Grow Rich”?
AMY: Oh, like 100 times. Yes, of course.
KIM: Well, I’m just wrapping up my first time reading it.
AMY: Oh, it’s so good.
KIM: I found it almost amusing – he’s talking about… I don’t have page numbers, and it’s not broken down in chapters – I don’t know what’s going on, I have the physical version. But in one section, he’s talking about a couple that lives in New York City, ad I think the book was written, like, 70 or 90 years ago.
And he’s talking about how their breakfasts – and it’s far more extravagant than any breakfast we have in our house, but with eggs, and toast, and orange juice, and all these foods – I mean, here it’s just a bowl of cereal spilling on the floor. But how it cost 20 cents. And then – and that’s for two people.
And then he’s looking at the average budget for a woman’s clothing at this time in America, and he’s saying the average woman spends $200 a year on clothing, and that blew my mind. I just need to share, that blew my mind – because I, like you, have a wardrobe of yoga pants and sweatpants. Yup. Heaven forbid, when they start speaking – well, it will be fun. There are rare occasions when I like to go shopping.
AMY: Oh, it’s totally fun to go, and buy those clothes, and to have “dress up days”. But I don’t want that to be every day of my life, where I have to worry about hair, and makeup, and are things ironed? Like, there’s just all this extra time that I’m not spending on doing any of that stuff. But I love when I get to do it, because it is something fun and different, you know? It’s a break of the routine, which is fun, too.
KIM: Oh, absolutely. I reserve those for date night with my husband, so he enjoys it as well.
AMY: Absolutely, absolutely.
KIM: But, yeah. So on that note, I have to ask, then – and then I have a feeling I know what you’re going to say – there are some people, especially my producers, who believe that getting dressed up and getting their hair and makeup done every day make them more productive. Do you feel like you’re any more productive when you’ve showered, or if you’ve put on makeup or anything? Personally, I don’t – well, maybe if I shower, because I feel like sometimes a shower is caffeinated.
AMY: Yes! I think it depends on the day, and I think it depends on what I’m working on, so I wouldn’t give a blanket “yes or no” answer for that.
I find what makes me the most productive is – my normal morning schedule is I wake up pretty early in the morning. I’m a naturally early riser, I don’t really use an alarm to wake up, and I wake up sometimes – somewhere between 5:00 a.m. and 5:45. Whatever time I wake up I’m totally fine without setting an alarm.
KIM: Without an alarm?
AMY: Without an alarm, but the bad part about that is – no matter what time I go to bed, that’s what time I wake up. So even on Saturday mornings, I wake up that early. Even if we’re out the night before, and we go to bed at midnight, I wake up that early. So it’s a blessing and a curse. People are jealous of the fact that I can do that, but it’s not always great. So don’t be too jealous!
But yeah, without an alarm. And I’ve always been like that. When I was in high school, and late teenagers are supposed to sleep till noon, I literally would take a pillow – my best friend still talks about this – I would take a pillow with me to her house, and I would put a book in it. And I would sleep with the book in my pillow, because when I would wake up in the morning, like four hours before she would wake up, I would just lay there and read a book. And I’ve always just been an early riser. My dad was like that, too.
And anyway – so I wake up early in the morning, but I’m not a “jump right into work in the morning” kind of a person. But I also don’t have some sort of “magical morning routine”, where I do journaling and attention-setting and all that stuff. I’ve tried so many times to set that up, and I just can’t. It’s just not my thing.
So I just kind of wake up and be like, “What do I feel like?” Like, maybe one morning, it’s some gentle yoga stretches. Maybe another morning, I just want to sit, build a fire, and read a book, or maybe I want to jump on my computer and clean out some e-mails. Or whatever it is that I feel like doing, I just kind of let myself do that.
Then everyone in my house wakes up, I make breakfast or pack everybody’s lunches, we get ready. I take my son to school, I come home, I grab my dog, and we go for a walk for a half an hour around the neighborhood. That is what makes me the most productive, and I see a huge difference in my day when I don’t walk my dog, and when I do walk my dog.
And it doesn’t matter what outfit I’m wearing. You know, I usually – a lot of times, my walking clothes are what I still have on when my husband comes home from work. And he’s like, “Oh, did you just go for a walk?” And I’m like, “Yeah, eight hours ago,” you know? But that’s what I end up wearing a lot for the whole entire day – but that that fresh air…
And it’s not the same, like on a rainy day, sometimes I’ll walk on the treadmill, and I don’t get the same level of productivity from it, the boost from it. It’s the outside air, it’s the fresh air, it’s the exercise.
Sometimes – most times, I’m listening to a podcast while I’m doing that, so I try and find a half-an-hour podcast if I have calls, or I’ll do an hour walk if there’s podcasts I want to listen to, I walk until the podcast is done, and so however long that takes for whatever it is I want to listen to. That, I would say, has the biggest impact on my productivity – of anything.
KIM: Amy, I’m going to have to borrow that – and take Penny Dog for a walk. And maybe I’ll have to upgrade her to “Quarter” by the time, you know, it’s done.
AMY: It’s good!
KIM: I feel bad, now that you’re talking about that, I don’t… We’ve lived in this house for almost three years, and I don’t think I have personally ever taken her for a walk in the neighborhood, because we have a fenced-in backyard.
AMY: Right, right. And we do too, we have a fenced-in backyard, and my dog certainly – she likes to go and walk. And I was walking early in the morning, and so I got in the habit of taking the dog with me, from a safety issue – because she’s a 100-pound Rottweiler-Shepherd kind of… something that looks so scary, but she’s like the biggest teddy bear dog. And so I would take her with me instead of pepper spray to go for a walk, when it was dark.
But then it just grew into this, “Well, that timing doesn’t really work for me, because I’m not really feeling awake enough to-” Like, I don’t mind being awake at 5:45 in the morning, I don’t necessarily want to leave my house at 5:45 – especially when it’s cold. In the summer, I do walk a little bit earlier if it’s going to get hot, because we – I live outside Washington D.C., and it’s so gross and humid here.
But yeah, I’m telling you, it is the best thing I can do. And I couple it a lot of times with meditating. So sometimes I meditate first thing in the morning when I wake up, sometimes I meditate after I come home from my walk. I love it.
Here’s my favorite – it’s the perfect trifecta, hat-trick, whatever – the walk, a podcast that’s really inspiring, and I come home and I meditate, and it’s like I’m able to almost “pressure cook” all the information that I got out of the podcast through my meditation. And then it’s like, “Oh, my gosh, I have so many great ideas of things that I can do in my business now today.”
So I try and do that combination of things when I know on my calendar I have an open day that’s reserved for working on my business. I don’t necessarily do that combination when I know I’ve got work that is client-based, because I don’t necessarily need tons of new fresh ideas coming into my head when I’m going to work on my client business, because then I’m just frustrated. Because I can’t work on it. But I’ll do that, and it’s almost like the perfect recipe of inspiration for the day of an open calendar of non-client work.
KIM: Oh, I totally hear that, about having all those fresh ideas for yourself but you have to work on client work.
AMY: I know you do. You’re such an idea person, too!
KIM: I so am. What are some of the systems that you use in your business? We already talked about Asana, and we did talk about Infusionsoft. Is there one more that really sticks out besides ProfitBoard?
AMY: Um, Evernote.
KIM: Awesome, and is that how you track ideas? Or how do you record ideas when you do get them?
AMY: So Google Docs and Evernote combination – mostly Google Docs at this point. So most of the ideas that I’ve got are like, “Oh, I could write a blog post on that, there’s a conference idea – there’s a thing. I start a new document in the folder for whatever – if it’s a blog post idea, I’ll start a new document, title it, and then write out like two or three bullet points about what it was that I was going to talk about. And I don’t necessarily write the whole blog post. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I just sort of let it sit there.
In Evernote, I keep a lot of my client notes, and I’m transitioning – like, I have this funny thing with Evernote and Google Docs. Sometimes I feel like using Google Docs, and sometimes I feel like using Evernote, so I kind of dance between the two of them. But I use Evernote for a lot of my client notes, like when I’m on my calls with my clients, I take a lot of notes about what they’re working on in their business and things that I can do. I put those in Evernote, just in case I ever need to reference them – a lot of times, I don’t ever go back to them – but then I put the tasks of what I’m responsible for in my Asana.
KIM: I love it.
AMY: Yeah. I’m not a big systems person, though, I have to be honest. I’m not a huge – I’m always looking for a way that I can do things more efficiently, but I’m not a big, strong… I’m attracted to the idea of being super productive and efficient, but I’m not all the time.
KIM: Yes. No I have attempted too many system set-ups for my business, and in the end, what works the best for me is honestly pen-and-paper.
AMY: Yes, yes, absolutely.
KIM: Amy, this has been so fabulous. I am definitely going to want to bring you back again, because I feel like we will have, like, 18 more episodes.
AMY: Oh, my gosh. We have hours of things that we could talk about together, Kim!
KIM: Oh, absolutely. Listeners, I’m going to share one more time where you can find all the show notes, and then I’m going to ask Amy to share where you can find her. But you can find all the show notes, the transcript, all of the wonderful links, and book titles, and resources at The KimSutton.com/PP040. Amy, where can listeners find you online and get in touch? And I know they’re going to want to purchase ProfitBoard, or sign up for it.
AMY: My website is AmyBradbury.com, and that’s the best place that you can find out about everything that I have going on in my business right now. And I will set up a place where they can get the “Profit-Fueled Life” program that we talked about, and we’ll put that link in the show notes for them to be able to get that free little mini-course that will help them with their goal setting.