Q1: Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Ans:Money Management Solutions was started in Dallas, Texas in 1994 as a sole proprietor marketing consulting firm for small local businesses. The mission of the company was to help local business owners increase their cash flow and improve their profitability. It quickly morphed into an accounting/consulting firm for business owners to help solve their cash flow problems and build a firm financial foundation under their businesses. The company moved to Naples, Florida in 2011.
Q2:Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Ans:I spent the first half of my career working for large corporations in Virginia and Texas, first in advertising/marketing management positions and then in corporate operations positions. I was always involved in my local community where I constantly interacted with small business owners and identified major problem areas those businesses faced on a consistent basis.
In 1994, I left the corporate world to start my own business to help local business owners. Armed with what I knew from study and experience about marketing, product positioning and merchandising, and the financial operations of business, I worked with business owners one-on-one while learning accounting to expand my business offerings and added tax preparation to my services for a period of 10 years. I have always been the only employee of my business because I wanted to work out of my home to have maximum flexibility with using my time, and the freedom to choose which business owners I wanted to take on as clients.
Q3:What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Ans:There was a specific incident that happened during the last few years of my corporate employment that kept bothering me that caused a major change in my own company in 2001. That incident occurred when I was put in charge of doing the product procurement for a group of product categories for a large number of convenience stores. Knowing that I would be expected to grow the sales in those merchandise categories, I set about figuring out how they had performed the previous year so I would know what numbers I had to beat.
After wading through a massive stack of financial report forms for each store and each category, the shocking fact was that in the previous year, those stores had grossed $90 million in retail sales and bottom line they had managed to lose $12 million on the net income line. I knew it wasn’t an accounting mistake, so what could possibly have caused that? I started reading everything I could get my hands on about business economics to find the answer.
As my own business and clientele grew and I learned about what was going on, and going wrong financially in many businesses. I finally figured out that the financial problems were mainly caused by one thing. Business owners were relying on their accounting systems and bank account balances to manage their finances instead of practicing good cash flow management so they were in control of their money.
I put together a cash flow management workbook and checklists and started selling training and consulting packages to my business owner clients on the principles of good cash flow management, and their businesses began to turn around; revenue and profits increased, debt was decreased and paid off, and the business owners were sleeping a lot better at night because they weren’t worried about the money any more.
However, I had created a problem for myself. I was working one-on-one with the business owners in their offices so I could only help so many businesses each week with their cash flow management planning, so once my appointment calendar was full my income from that was topped out. In addition, the business owners were calling me at all hours to ask advice, and I felt like I had permanently adopted them. I had to solve that problem for myself if my business was going to grow.
In 2001 I decided I needed to create a software program the business owners could use to replace me personally, and it had to contain complete video training, answer common questions with an extensive FAQ resource section, and include some complimentary coaching from me by phone and or email.
Talk about a major shift in my business! I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I made that decision, and I just started and kept putting one foot in front of the other to create that product, and working like the Tasmanian Devil to earn the money to pay a good software developer to code the software for me. It took me 5 years and I was finally able to launch the first version of the product in 2006 as a downloadable product. I retired the first version and launched an online version called ‘Cash Flow Mojo’ in 2012 to solve other technical issues I hadn’t anticipated. In 2009 my husband opened a marketing agency to help my clients market their businesses effectively to increase their revenue. I am happy to be able to say that the ‘mojo’ (magical powers) of the software has led to it being used by businesses in 34 countries around the world in well over 50 industries. It has helped a lot of business owners that I would never have been able to help without the software tool.
Q4: What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ans:Number one would be to start a business doing something you are good at and very passionate about; something that you like doing so much it makes you want to jump out of bed every morning and get to work, and that is going to be profitable enough to sustain you and the business itself. Being a business owner requires long hours, extreme dedication, and the willingness to take on all the responsibilities and liabilities of being a business owner.
Second, network in your business community and find a business mentor that is willing to help you with advice and to introduce you to others you can trust who will have your best interests in mind; especially with help finding an excellent accountant and tax preparer who know what they are doing. Down the road, pay back the favor by helping some other entrepreneur who is just starting out.
Third, whatever your business is, produce and deliver high-quality products and services, and give excellent customer service that will produce customer referrals. Word-of-mouth referrals of your business by extremely satisfied customers is pure gold and the best marketing tool ever.
Q5: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: Honesty, Integrity, Dedication and Perseverance; the willingness to do whatever it takes to make a go of it while maintaining a high ethical level.
Be knowledgeable in all aspects of running a successful business; take classes, read business books, seek out and learn from experts with business experience in areas you don’t know a lot about – The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is an excellent and free source for this.
Good communication and listening skills; understand your customer’s expectations and learn how to manage their expectations with honesty and integrity – under promise and over deliver.
Q6:How many hours do you work a day on average?
Ans: When I first started my business, I was putting in 80 to 90 hours a week and rarely took a day off, and I did that for years. As I became more experienced and even got to the point where I was willing to fire a client who wanted me to do something that was out of ethical bounds of the accounting industry, I could do the work in a regular 40 – 50-hour work week except during “Tax Season” when the deadlines were fast approaching and work was piling up in my office. Later when my software went on the market, I worked a heavy schedule during “Tax Season” and could work a fairly light schedule the rest of the year, mostly doing consultations over the phone, with a few crunch times around tax extension deadlines.
Q7:To what do you most attribute your success?
Ans: I believe the things that contributed most to my success was my genuine desire to help other business owners be successful and my willingness to give my clients over-the-top excellent customer service and high-quality services, while never violating my own personal integrity.
In addition, discovering that business owners didn’t understand the stark difference between accounting and cash flow management and recognizing that their lack of knowledge and understanding was a major cause of their business financial problems, and being willing to do something to remedy that to help them be successful has made my business more successful.
Q8:How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans: When I started my business back in the early 1990s, before the advent of internet marketing, I greatly relied on word-of-mouth referrals, joining and being very active in local business networking groups, and direct mail. later I replaced direct mail with internet marketing and I spent a number of years traveling around giving seminars on business financial management which is very different from accounting.
Marketing your business is mandatory. If you aren’t talking to your current and potential customers, then your competition will be. So continual marketing to keep up the momentum is key. The great thing about internet marketing is once you post something on the internet it stays there getting out your message 24/7 until you take it down, modify it, or replace it with a new, more effective ad or message. It doesn’t beat talking one-on-one with a potential customer, but it is the next best thing.
Q9:Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Ans: I have always been a pay-cash girl, and thanks to my parents I learned very early to save a portion of every dollar I earned and sock it away in a savings account, and never to charge something on a credit card that I didn’t know how I was going to pay it off in-full when the statement came due. That habit has been a very valuable tool both personally and in running my business.
When I needed to hire a developer to do the coding for my software product, which is not inexpensive, I found one who was good that would work with me on paying him for his work on a “milestone” basis. Once he looked over my 400 pages of notes on what the software windows needed to look like and how they would work and interact with other pages, he gave me a “not to exceed price, and broke the project down into 8 milestones, each representing a specific amount of work to be done. We agreed I would pay him for the first milestone, and while he was working on that, I would work to make the funds I needed to pay him for the next milestone. And work I did – upping my hours I worked every day and asking clients for referrals so I could get new clients fast. Fortunately, the coding took quite a while so I had the advantage of two “tax seasons” where I make 60% of my annual accounting income in a 9- week period. By the time he needed to be paid for the last milestone I was able to pay him in full, and then start paying to market the software as I had been having the website built at the same time.
Most business owners don’t operate that way until they learn good cash flow management practices and start setting funds aside each week for future expenses they know are coming. They borrow to buy expensive tools and equipment and pay them off, and they use credit cards for most purchases. That’s fine as long as they also plan how they are going to pay them off fast before they make the commitment.
There are banks who will lend to small businesses that have a couple of years track record and can produce financial statements and company tax returns, and the SBA will too, but you have to be careful of committing to high interest rate loans. And there are what I call predatory lenders out there who will lend at rates from 10% – 29% interest rates and demand to be able to draft the payments electronically from your bank account on a daily basis. That is a dangerous and disheartening situation to put yourself in because you will feel like you have to work twice as hard just to pay your lender and feel as though you can never get ahead or out from under the debt.
Q10:What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans: Sell and deliver high quality products and services your customers will be happy with and give them excellent customer service. Always operate with honesty and integrity. Be the best at what you do in the local or national area where your business operates.
Learn and use the principles of business cash flow management:
Build a budget so you know how much income your business has to bring in each week to do better than just breaking even. That calculation gives you your income planning target so you can plan out how you are going to make that income. Weekly planning keeps the numbers small and easier to confront. Plan to pay off the debt as quickly as possible.
Run your business lean and flexible when it comes to your producing products and services you sell. Negotiate hard when it comes to paying for Cost of Goods Sold items [inventory, contract labor, supplies, etc.] and keep general operating expenses as low as possible [rent, telephone, utilities, payroll, insurance, etc.] especially in the discretionary spending areas such as office supplies and dining out. Always spend more on marketing that gives you a good return on your investment; marketing consistently is mandatory to keep revenue coming in.
Set money aside in what I call the 4 “buckets of cash” out of each week’s income in small amounts to pay for emergencies, business expansion, taxes and insurance, and retirement. Keep the percentages very small until you can raise them some. Set aside money each week to replenish inventory.
Never spend more than you make and don’t get out the checkbook and just start paying bills without a plan. Part of your weekly cash flow management planning needs to be carefully planning out how to portion out and spend the income that cleared the bank in the best interests of your company; some towards paying off any debt, some for inventory, marketing, and payroll, some to set aside in the 4 buckets of cash, and some for regular operating expenses that keep the lights on and the doors open.
Don’t fail to pay yourself a fair salary. Nothing burns out a business owner faster than working long hours and never getting paid for it. It’s a sure way to get burned out and discouraged.
If you are a retailer selling “fad or very trendy” products you buy from a supplier who does not take back unsold inventory, never overstock so you don’t get caught with outdated inventory that nobody wants any more. If you do have overstocks, bundle them with popular items for a special price just to get your money back out of them plus a small profit while making a good profit on the more desirable items in the bundle.
Create your own products to sell if that makes sense for your type of business. Try to identify products or services to sell that are defined as “recurring income” items – things that customers need and will buy consistently from you over months or years. An example is my client who operates a very successful chiropractic clinic and also opened a complimentary company that developed a line of nutritional health supplements that he sells online and in his own clinic.
Always be looking down the road at the business trends for your product or service category and be ready, willing and able to pivot to a modified or different business model, much like I did when I off-loaded my tax preparation business, kept the accounting business and moved into developing a software program to help my current and future clients.
Q11:Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
Ans: In the next 5 to 10 years, I will be cruising toward retirement and implementing the first part my exit strategy by offloading my accounting business to someone else; ideally a student in the school of business administration and accounting at the local trade school who wants to be in business for themselves. That way I can mentor them and get them up on their feet and running. I still do not know what I intend to do with my software product and the cash flow management consulting part of the business since it provides good recurring income every month. I will figure that part out eventually.
Q12: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Ans: There are two types of businesses I admire the most in these days and times. First is the business of internet marketing done by companies that get great results for their clients in the form of new and recurring business and for a fair price. My husband’s internet marketing agency is a fine example of that and he has helped my business owner clients tremendously over the years.
The second type of business I admire is the computer technician business that keeps our business computers updated and running well and can easily rescue me in a crash situation when a down computer means no work getting done. In this rapidly advancing technology age, all businesses rely heavily on their computer and internet networks and are dead in the water without them.
Q13:How important have good employees been to your success?
Ans: I have always operated as a sole operator of my business, so I have never had employees, but in dealing with many other business owners in many diverse industries, I understand the critical importance of having competent, dedicated and loyal employees that take pride in their work and genuinely want to positively contribute to the success of their employer’s business. Employees can make or break a business.
Q14:How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Ans: I generally stick with an idea as long as it is successful or I believe it can be successful. A prime example is creating my cash flow management training workbook and then spending 5 years using that concept to develop a software program from it. If the idea proves to be unsuccessful or the potential consumer market for the idea doesn’t seem to care about or want whatever it is, then I would try to find out why, and if that proved to be an insurmountable problem, I would abandon it and move on to something else.
Q15:What motivates you?
Ans: Helping a business owner who has a challenging financial problem that I can help them get out of is what motivates me the most. I have helped turn companies around financially and even pulled a few back from the brink of bankruptcy. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and if they fail, our entire economy fails. The more businesses I can help to stay in business and be successful, the more motivated I am to reach out and find others to help.
I also like to help startup businesses whose owners are excited about being a business owner but need help in learning how to successfully operate their business and in finding resources to help them.
Q16:What are your ideals?
Ans: My ideal business situation for myself is the one I created; working by myself out of my home on my own schedule with the freedom to choose my clients, the freedom to expand into different service offerings and the ability to use my skills in business marketing/operations, accounting, taxes, and cash flow management to help other business owners.
My ideal client is one who genuinely wants help with their business accounting to be done correctly and to help them stay out of the gun sights of the IRS auditors, or wants help to solve a bad or chronic financial problem they have tried unsuccessfully to solve themselves for a while.
Q17:How do you generate new ideas?
Ans: I generate new ideas by working with my clients. I am an outside-the-box thinker who likes to color outside the lines when I am figuring out a plan to solve a company’s financial problem that has not responded to typical, run-of-the-mill solutions. No two clients or plans are the same, but I can get ideas from working with one client to solve their problem that can be modified for another type of business with a problem in the same area of their business.
I also listen to business news programs and read business books on a consistent basis to learn more about business operations and the current state of the business economics and sometimes pick up on a story about something innovative a company has done or a new product category that is coming down the pike that leads to ideas for helping my own business or my clients’ businesses.
Q18:How do you define success?
Ans: Being in a position of continuing to work because I want to, and not because I have to, in order to survive financially for the rest of my life.
Being in a position to generously give back to my community without expecting anything in return.
Still enjoying doing my work even though I have done it for so many years.
Q19: How do you build a successful customer base?
Ans: I define a successful customer base as one that sticks with me for many years. That is built by delivering very high-quality work on a timely basis and always giving my clients excellent customer service, and caring as much about the success of their business as they do. I have clients that were single, when I took them on and I have had them through their getting married, having kids, and getting their kids through college and will have them for years into the future. They have become my good friends, and not just clients.
Q20:What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans: It is being my own boss, so that the only person who can fire me, is me.
Q21: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Ans: This one is a client success story that surprised even me. In 2004, I received a phone call from the owner of a construction company in Louisiana who said, “I just read your website about how you help companies with financial problems. I am in bad trouble. I only have a little over $30 left in my business operating account and I am 3 days out from my court date for my bankruptcy hearing. I really don’t want to close my business because it has been in my family for a few generations and I don’t want to have to fire the employees who have been with me for years or leave my suppliers holding the bag. Can you help me?”
WOW. My first thought was, why couldn’t he have found my website a month ago? 3 days?
I started grilling him on what happened, what he’d done to try to solve the problem that hadn’t worked, and started digging into the details of his business operation’s failure. My next thought was, this guy is the real deal and he genuinely wants to save his business for the right reasons. I believe he’s ethical and deserving of my help.
I told him to fax me his business financials and tax returns from the 3 previous years immediately so I could review them and then I would call him with questions. I was honest and said depending on his answers to my questions after my review I would tell him whether I thought I could help him or not. The fax machine started kicking out the reports about 20 minutes later and I called to let him know I had received everything and would call him in about 2 – 3 hours.
I reviewed his financials and tax returns noting things that were red flags to me and writing down many questions I needed answers to, and then I called him back and asked questions for well over an hour. During the course of my review and then his answers to my questions I began to see, as someone with an outsider’s view of his operation and his actions, how the problem had been created that caused the slide toward bankruptcy, and I began to also get some ideas about some possible solutions to get the company turned around fast and moving in the right direction back toward solvency.
The problem was we only had 3 days, so I told him if he was willing to temporarily turn over the financial reins of his company to me, and to do exactly what I asked him to do without balking, that I felt that I could develop a plan that he could execute that would help him pull out of the situation. I told him that I estimated it would take about 6 months to get it turned around to the point where he could be confident that he could complete the plan and not have to file for bankruptcy. I told him that he would have to sign an agreement with me that his attorney and his wife would have to be privy to, and that his attorney would have to deal with cancelling the bankruptcy hearing with the court. I told him I would include in the agreement my terms for getting paid for my work only if the plan worked and he did not have to file for bankruptcy. I would be working remotely from my office 4 states away and we would have conference calls daily at the end of each day to report what had been accomplished and to formulate what the action plan was for each person for the next day.
He agreed, the agreement was signed, and we went to work. The two things we needed for the plan to work were cash coming in the door to pay COD for construction materials and time to finish projects in progress to get his company paid while he was out bidding on and closing new and different projects and getting the first cash draws. I had him make immediate changes in his operation and his construction crews. I had him sell assets like company trucks and expensive equipment that could be replaced later, and to take many other actions to get cash in the door, and make some payments on past due bills to calm down his suppliers of construction materials, and keep the lights on and the doors open to buy much needed time. I worked with his office manager on the phone and coached her on how to handle upset suppliers and customers who called. I decided where and when money would be spent, and worked with the business owner to get the approved checks written and out the door.
To make a long story short, everyone pulled together, including the construction crews and it took only 3 months to get the business stabilized and to the point where the business owner was confident that he could make it without filing for bankruptcy.
Today the construction company is solvent and successful and the business owner has invested in a second complimentary business that is also doing well.
Q22: What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Ans: Entrepreneurs are typically very self-confident and fiercely independent individuals who are the happiest when they are in complete control of their own lives and future. They are risk takers who thrive on making their own decisions and are willing to take on the risks, responsibilities and liabilities of business ownership for the freedoms of being their own boss and having no artificial caps placed on their earning ability. They are typically passionate about their chosen field of business and can think creatively and generate new ideas that cause their industry to progress.
Those who choose to work for others can have many of the same traits of entrepreneurs but are more comfortable with trading off being in complete control of their future for the security of working for someone else and having a steady, predictable source of income they can count on. They typically are less willing to take risks and more willing to go along with the status quo than entrepreneurs.
Q23: In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Q24: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ans: I would skip going to college and getting a 4-year degree so I could get an earlier start on getting real life experience working in the business world.
Q25: How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Ans: Being an entrepreneur has enhanced my family life since my husband is also an entrepreneur. We are a great team in life and in supporting each other in our business ventures.
Q26:What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans: I only fear getting bored. I manage that by working in my business, by doing volunteer work in my community, visiting with friends and family and traveling with my husband.
Q27:How did you decide on the location for your business?
Ans:Fortunately, my business can be done from any location where I have access to
phone service and internet service for my computer. We work from our home. We
chose to live and work in Naples, Florida for personal reasons.
Q28:Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: I wouldn’t call it a pattern, but I definitely believe there is a formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur which is basically encompassed in my answer to the earlier question “What is the best way to achieve long-term success?”
Q29:If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Ans: Adam Smith (1723 – 1790) who published his book titled “The Wealth Of Nations” in 1776, which is the best book on business and national economics I have ever read. I would like to talk with him about his view of business economics and its impact on world history.
Q30: Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Ans: My Mother
Q31: What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
Ans: The book that both inspired me and changed my view of the realities of business economics in today’s world was “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.
Q32: What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Ans: I can’t say I have made any big mistakes, but then I have always sought out experts and asked for advice in areas that are not my field or strong suit. I have established a good working relationship with a group of experts in many business areas I rely on as resources to refer my clients to for special problems; a tax attorney, an employment law attorney, a factoring broker, a forensic accountant, a theft / embezzlement expert in the dentistry industry, etc.
Q33:How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
Ans: When in doubt, ask an expert and you won’t have to do damage control.
Q34:What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
Ans: Reading, growing orchids, volunteer work in the community, visiting with friends and family, traveling.
Q35: What makes you happy?
Ans: Helping others.
Q36:What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans: Working extraordinarily long hours, including nights and weekends, with very few vacations until the business was stabilized. Plowing all the profits back into the company to have my business cash flow management software developed not knowing if it would be a successful product.
Q37:If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
Ans: What advice would you give an entrepreneur who wants to work from home?
What are the two areas in business management that can easily destroy a business and the business owner’s personal life if mistakes are made?
What is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant? Should an entrepreneur hire either as an employee, or farm out the work to another firm?
Company : Cash Flow Mojo Software
Address : 4001 Santa Barbara Blvd #358
City : Naples
State : Florida
Country: United States
Zip : 34104
Phone : 239-331-7055
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org