I made a lot of financial mistakes when I was around 22 years old.
- Moved back to the country on a secondment with my then company. Mistake.
- Ended up being on less money when I did that, and accepted it for “career progression”. Mistake.
- Got a personal loan and car loan to set myself up in the country. Mistake.
- Realised why I moved to the city in the first place, sold car to afford to move back to city. Mistake.
- Got a car loan when got back to the city, so then had to pay off two cars, of which I only had one. Mistake.
- Went back to uni and pulled out of the degree accumulating a HECS debt in the process. Mistake.
Needless to say looking back I kind of go to myself – “you Mathew Beeche are a bit of a dumb fuck”. Everything then sailed along smoothly for a good five years or so, I worked full time, travelled, had a great job then I got that damn entrepreneurial itch, that niggle in the back of my head that I wanted to be truly independent and forge my own path in the world.
As most of you know I started the shoe string blog in 2011 and in January 2012 I decided it had enough readership and traction to commercialise the whole thing, so I worked hard to exit myself from my full time job, ending a guaranteed pay check, a very comfortable lifestyle to take a risk and build the dream. The thing with dreams my friends or at least the dreams sold in the bulk of startup media is that everyone being written or talked about is doing great, numbers are never discussed and profitability is assumed. I fell for that trap hard.
Since leaving my full time job, still in debt but managing it well, I have made further financial mistakes, this time in business.
- Didn’t read the terms and conditions on something worth 10K we needed to cancel. Shit.
- Spent more time building contacts and opportunities than closing immediate revenue in Q4. Shit shit.
- Relied too heavily on one type of revenue for the business, and fixing this before a 2 week B2B xmas break. Shit shit shit.
After a visit from a rather lovely man who came on behalf of the bank to repossess my car at the back end of last year [personal savings run out, and you can't pay yo'self until everyone else get's their cut] I sat down and really looked at the way I was running my business and how I could kill this awful debt monster I had allowed into my life.
The answer is simple, profitable companies are able to pay their employees – to be profitable you need to make lots of sales. The most expensive thing in my business, was me taking care of our expenses, I am obviously very shit at it because of my love of spending. Therefore we now have an outsourced CFO, and they are the boss of the bank account, not me.
I may have the title and own the company, but my strength has always been in developing business, project managing ideas and making sales. I am now the sales guy in the business, the CFO knows that we need to have a two person editorial team in place by March, they know we need to pay back people we owe money to as a company by next month, they know exactly how much is needed to keep everything going cost wise, employee wise and the GP we want to operate on. I now have a sales target, set for me by the CFO to achieve this – I have one thing to worry about, I know that one number in the short term allows me to put a team in place to continue growing, banish the debt monster and not have to worry about what in the hell I need to be doing to “manage” everything.
Sometimes being the boss, means knowing what you shouldn’t be the boss of, it took me a long time and around 60,000 dollars worth of mistakes to realise that. This year is different, my goal is to one day this year demote myself to sales & strategy director of the business, and I am looking forward to it.