Navigating the choppy waters of business finances is a formidable challenge for any CEO. Add Dyscalculia to the mix, and it’s like steering a ship through a storm blindfolded.
Yet, here I am, proud to say that our digital marketing agency has transitioned from a previous financial year of mostly non-profitable months to a new era of consistent profitability. How did we accomplish this? The journey involved overhauling financial systems entirely [and bringing them in-house, instead of outsourcing to external advisory groups like we have done historically], tracking utilisation more effectively, minimising operating expenses, and learning the power of ‘no’.
First? A financial system I could understand
Having Dyscalculia means traditional financial systems often feel like a labyrinth to me. So, the first order of business was creating a financial framework I could not just understand, but master. This meant moving away from overly complex accounting practices to more intuitive, user-friendly systems. The result? A streamlined financial dashboard that my Dyscalculia doesn’t just love … but can confidently navigate, enabling me to make well-informed decisions swiftly.
TL;DR? We dropped our external business advisory group, and brought everything in-house … and we’ve gone from a sea of red months, to green again.
Cue the almightiest exhale, as well as 1,000 different feelings of immense pride.
Taking utilisation to the next level
One of the significant drivers of our newfound profitability was implementing a superior utilisation tracking system. In our industry, understanding the capacity of each team member is crucial. We didn’t just upgrade our old system; we revolutionised it.
Our new utilisation tracker honours capacity management, ensuring that we’re not pushing anyone beyond capacity [something you constantly have to watch in digital marketing as an industry] and instead focused on ensuring, everyone is working at full capacity.
It’s just not a business, nor a growing business, if we’re not ensuring that everyone is at capacity, or as an agency mate of mine says, “it’s not a business if you’re only growing salaries, and not the business”.
The power of transparency and collective goal setting
Another critical element in our journey to profitability was embracing transparency within our team. In the past, revenue targets were often considered ‘C-suite’ information, disconnected from the day-to-day realities of the broader team. We realised that this approach was not just outdated, but counterproductive.
Therefore, we adopted a strategy of open communication about our financial goals. We mapped out revenue targets for each department and made it a point to articulate these clearly to everyone involved. This way, every team member understood their role in reaching these objectives, and consequently, their contribution to the company’s overall financial health.
The impact of this transparency was twofold. Firstly, it fostered a sense of accountability and purpose across the board, as everyone could see the direct correlation between their efforts and the company’s success. Secondly, it created a shared sense of accomplishment.
Doing that necessary “OPEX dance”, i.e cutting unnecessary operational expenses
With a clearer understanding of our financial landscape, it became evident that several operating expenses were more luxury than necessity. By making some tough but sensible decisions, we were able to channel our resources into what truly mattered for growth. And growth, as we’ve witnessed, naturally leads to increased profitability.
As the saying goes, “You can’t please everyone.” Yet, as CEOs, we often find ourselves trapped in a cycle of saying ‘yes’ to avoid conflict or because an opportunity seems too good to pass up—even when it doesn’t align with our strategic goals. This year, we learned the art of polite but firm refusal. By focusing on projects and requests that genuinely advance our agency’s objectives, we’ve created a more focused, efficient, and ultimately, more profitable operation.
Cherie’s final words…
Transitioning from a financially shaky past [a.k.a the 21/22 fin. year. #aDOOZY] to a present marked by consistent profitability hasn’t been easy. It has required serious adjustments, some of which felt counterintuitive at first. But by adapting our financial systems to accommodate my Dyscalculia, enhancing our utilisation tracking, scrutinising our operating expenses, and mastering the art of ‘no,’ we’ve not just survived; we’ve thrived.
The road to profitability is neither short nor straightforward, but with the right tools and mindset, it is absolutely achievable.
Need some help achieving something similar? I’m running a x3 hour Masterclass that gives you access to my fully editable, Dyscalculia-friendly profit and loss spreadsheet [as well as countless other tools I’ve developed for TDP as its proudly Autistic CEO].
You can sign up here, I’d love to help you.