Becoming Noteworthy: Profit First Planning

Becoming Noteworthy: Profit First Planning

Mar 27, 2019 6:00:00 AM

Hey business owners! This one is for you!

Have you heard the statistics about being an entrepreneur?

20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 30% of small business fail in their second year, and 50% of small businesses fail after five years in business. Finally, 70% of small business owners fail in their 10th year in business.

Investopedia says there four common reasons why businesses fail.

  1. Lack of capital.
  2. Poor management.
  3. Poor business planning.
  4. Cash flow problems.

Basically it's poor money management that causes the downfall of companies.

I read a great book called "Profit First" by Mike Michalowicz In it he talks about creating a system so that you can manage your business cash-flow in a more realistic and repeatable way.

Image of the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz

 Michalowicz recommends opening at least 5 business bank accounts. I know it sounds crazy, but once I started I wondered how I even managed before!

1. Revenue

The first bucket is a dedicated income and revenue account. This account is the one that takes in all incoming cash and receipts. Think of it like a funnel, this is where everything comes in before being siphoned off.

I like this method for a few reasons. First, simplicity. This is the account where money comes in. If it doesn't have anything in it, you didn't make any money. This is a brutally real way to get a kick in the pants!

Think about it though, if you have $10,000 in your main account, and you don’t make any money for a few weeks, after expenses you might still have $7500 in there. People tend to think, at least I still have $7500, that’s enough for 3 more months!

If you see a big fat 0 on your income account, things change quick! The other reason I like it is security. If you need to give your account number out to receive Direct Deposit or ACH, this account will never have money in it for a long time, so the odds are that you'll transfer most funds away before getting hit with a fraud issue.

2. Profit

As the name implies, profit first!

You create an account (or at least accounting bucket) to give yourself an owners' share of the profit.

The key is to set a percentage goal that you'd like in an ideal world, and then work up to that over time. So if your perfect percentage of revenue going towards profit is 15%, start with 1% and work to grow it by 2 percentage points for the next 7 business quarters, or almost 2 years.

The main reason that businesses fail is that they don't make a profit. Mike Michalowicz's system helps business owners guarantee a profit.

3. Owner's Compensation.

I think people get confused with profit and owner's compensation. Profit is Income minus taxes and expenses. Owner's Compensation is actually like an expense! Pay yourself some sort of regular income. If you are starting a business you need to be sure that you can pay yourself something. The first few months or years may be small, but increase them from there.

There is no point in going into business if you cannot afford to make some sort of regular salary. I know I know we've all heard about the tech CEO that started their company in a garage and now they are worth billions… Warren Buffet, Phil Night, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos…they all have an interesting and amazing story, but they all did actually pay themselves something to live on while their company grew. They became wealthy because of the equity in the company, not their salary.

4. Taxes

Here is where most small businesses mess up. They say I'll put all expenses through the business. Then we can write off everything! Yay no taxes!

But that also means you didn't make a profit, and that’s the whole name of the game!

But Amazon didn't pay any federal taxes you say.

Do you have thousands of employees and multiple headquarters allowing for tax credits, rebates and multi-year depreciation?

Didn't think so…

So our goal is to pay ourselves a salary and show a respectable profit. There are payroll taxes and some taxes on the profit. The sooner you accept that, the better. Sorry, I just got really aggressive, it's passion, not patronizing.

5. Operating Expenses

Ok, we've allocated a % towards profit, owner's compensation, and taxes, the remainder should be allocated towards your expenses.

All of the deductible regular business expenses that haven't been covered go here.

Leases, payroll, cost of goods, software, etc…

If you've already started your business it may be hard to cut back on expenses, and that’s the point. The system that Michalowicz created forces you to right size all of your expenses so that you can run a sustainable business.

Image of five piggy banks with different labels. The five labels are revenue, profit, owner's compensation, taxes and operating expenses.

If you haven't started a business yet, you ought to forecast your numbers to make sure they would work with this model. Keep operating expenses as low as possible until your revenue grows enough to necessitate growing your expenses.

This system will take some getting used to for those who are starting out. There is some regular transfer activity, but it gives you confidence and clarity on where you need to focus for your financial side of things. Check out Mike's book here:

I recommend paying yourself a salary and then checking out my cash-flow and budgeting post to learn about managing your personal budget after you set your business up.

Also, schedule a strategy call with me to discuss how Profit First can work in your business. 

Schedule Your Strategy Call


Download this blog here!

Leave a Comment