00:00:00 – Glenn Harper
Welcome, everybody. Or another episode of Harper and Company Empowering Entrepreneurs. Glen Harper here.
00:00:06 – Julie Smith
00:00:07 – Glenn Harper
And we’d like to welcome our guest today, Kristin Deese, a fellow entrepreneur who is the brains behind multiple companies. She is a virtual CFO as well as a real CFO for multiple companies and owner of Gulf Coast business coaching in sunny Gulf Breeze, Florida. And in her spare time, she can be found on the beach throwing mud on ATVs with her family. Even though she looks like she’s all brains and a desk jockey, she likes to get dirty and experience nature and manual labor. Thanks to Christian for being part of the show today.
00:00:38 – Kristen Deese
Thank you for having me.
00:00:39 – Glenn Harper
You’re welcome. Well, it’s the funniest thing when we get some guests on here, the we try to have some commonality and we can make fun of each other. And knowing that you’re an accountant, I mean, we share a special bond, I think, and a non accountants just don’t get it. Julie doesn’t get it. She has no clue about what that means. And we’re trying to figure out, you know, when you were in school, I don’t know if you really wanted to be an accountant, but you said somehow you liked it and I just didn’t know if it was, you know, was it the cash versus accrual accounting amortization of bond premiums or accounts that just made you have to be the language of accounting? Which one was it?
00:01:17 – Kristen Deese
Probably none of the above.
00:01:19 – Glenn Harper
What those are, that’s sexy, that kind of stuff.
00:01:24 – Kristen Deese
I actually started my college career wanting to be a nurse, which is completely opposite of accounting, and realized that in order to do that I had to take biology and chemistry and they were really hard. So I jumped ship from that and moved over to accounting, which is completely opposite spectrum and found. I always have loved numbers and organization and stuff like that, but then started really understanding how it worked from that accounting perspective. And then I was like, okay, this is kind of cool. It’s just basically like a puzzle.
00:01:57 – Glenn Harper
Yeah, we look at it like, you know, some accounts really never even get it. But you’re an anomaly, kind of like myself, where at one point you’re sitting there looking at numbers and doing what you do, and all of a sudden it’s like the matrix. The numbers just roll and they make sense and you’re like, Oh, I can speak this language. It makes sense, right? Is that kind of what happened?
00:02:15 – Kristen Deese
Yeah, totally. As a matter of fact, the very first accounting, one on one class that I took, I failed. I had to retake it. But then once it clicked the second time around, then I was like, Oh, this is all making sense now and then. Now, even just yesterday, I was working on a complicated journal entry that was just really I just couldn’t get it to balance. And then when it finally did, it was like, oh.
00:02:39 – Glenn Harper
Are you are you suggesting that you don’t just plug a number and make it bounce or you actually try to find the number?
00:02:44 – Kristen Deese
Oh, no, I can take it.
00:02:46 – Glenn Harper
Yeah, that’s great. So I’ve been dying to ask this. Your husband, Justin, does does he think your tractor’s sexy? Do you guys have a tractor because you said you drive one of those around?
00:03:00 – Kristen Deese
We do have a tractor and a four wheeler and a side by side. Nice.
00:03:05 – Glenn Harper
So I stalked you a little bit on your online profile and Kennesaw State University. How do we detect that? That’s the third largest university in Georgia. Well, how did you pick that versus the Bulldogs? What was the reason? Was it Sturgis the owl or is just because you just want like the smaller school?
00:03:22 – Kristen Deese
Well, I actually started at Georgia State and transferred to Kennesaw about halfway through. I went to high school up in that area, so I was very familiar with that area. And when I went to Kennesaw way back in the day, it was still a commuter school. So it wasn’t even close to the size that it is now. Now they have dorms and a football team and all kinds of stuff, and when I was there, none of that was there. However, they had a fantastic business school and they still do. And so I wanted to get out of the city and out of Georgia State. So I transferred up to Kennesaw to finish out, and I’m very glad I did. It was it was an excellent school and their business and accounting program was is pretty good.
00:04:01 – Glenn Harper
How about that? Did you you weren’t there when they had Sturgis, right. I think he came along a little bit later but yeah.
00:04:08 – Kristen Deese
Yeah, no I wasn’t there when when they were there, my brothers ended up going there for a little while for engineering several years after I did. And by the time they went, Sturgis was there. And the plank and all of the things that they do now.
00:04:21 – Glenn Harper
Do they like have the outgoing attack little animals or is it just flying around or is it just sit there and look noble?
00:04:27 – Kristen Deese
I honestly have never been to a Kennesaw football game, so I couldn’t tell you have it.
00:04:32 – Glenn Harper
And my final like warm up question is do you prefer horseback riding or four wheeling?
00:04:38 – Kristen Deese
Oh, my gosh. I don’t know that I could pick. It is a tough one. I think probably four wheeling, but only by like a little smidge of a preference.
00:04:48 – Glenn Harper
Because it’s not as dangerous or more fast. You like to live in dangerous.
00:04:52 – Kristen Deese
I have a little bit more control on four wheeling because I’m driving as opposed to a horse where you have to you have some bit of control. But really the 1200 pounds beneath you has more control than you do. So.
00:05:02 – Glenn Harper
Yeah. They a moth. Oh, my God. We’re going to die. Horse jumps straight.
00:05:06 – Julie Smith
Yeah, that’s Glenn’s last softball question. But the one thing that I read while stalking you like Glenn, was the coffee and wine comments so we can find you in the morning, drinking your coffee and ending your day with wine. And for whatever reason, it wasn’t the numbers that connected me with you. It was that.
00:05:25 – Kristen Deese
Yes, like I am a human too.
00:05:27 – Julie Smith
So which one’s your favorite? Do you like to the beginning of the day or the end of your day?
00:05:31 – Kristen Deese
Oh, coffee? For sure. Yeah, for sure. I as a matter of fact, it’s mostly cream with just like a splash of coffee.
00:05:38 – Julie Smith
So I get that as I’m drinking Starbucks dairy’s.
00:05:41 – Glenn Harper
Good selection theory. Well, would you? You know, for our listeners out there, we always like to have our our guests kind of just tell a little bit about what services your companies do and, you know, a little intro of what you guys do for a living and the why of that. And then we’ll get into some more depth about being an entrepreneur as a you know, we just want to know a little bit about what you do so our clients can kind of connect with connect with you.
00:06:04 – Kristen Deese
Well, we do own a couple of businesses. We, my husband and I have worked together for 20 years, give or take. We own a business in Atlanta that installs kitchen appliances for people who purchase them from Lowe’s and Home Depot. So if you go need a dishwasher and you want somebody to install it, that’s our company that gets contracted out to do that. And then we own a company here in the panhandle of Florida called Paradise Home Services, and it’s plumbing, HVAC and then water and mold remediation. So I operate as the CFO for both of those companies. And then what I do with the majority of my time is those CFO services for other businesses in the trades. What we find a lot of times in the trades is the owners are really good technicians, they’re really good at what they do. But running the business part isn’t necessarily something that is a strength for them. So the coaching and the CFO services help them in that area of weakness so that they can be more balanced as a business.
00:07:09 – Glenn Harper
So you work, you coordinate that with their current CPA or accounting people to get the data. And then you kind of look at at a high level.
00:07:16 – Kristen Deese
What the owner yeah, I actually work with their in-house accounting staff. So a lot of times they’ll have like a bookkeeper or an office manager or somebody who’s keeping track of all of the day to day information expenses and receipts and payments and deposits and invoices and all that kind of stuff. And I help them with getting their systems together and how are they going to collect receipts and where are they going to store them and how are they going to track them and how are they going to track to make sure that they’re getting paid on their invoices? And then I help them put together their financial reports and reconcile all their statements and do all of those things. And then when they go to the CPA, they can give their CPA their completed books. And their CPA is not having to run around trying to figure out, you know, trying to do the reconciliations and figure out where everything is. They can just take the completed reports and prepare the taxes and do whatever they need to do with it. So it’s definitely very much a managerial accounting as opposed to tax prep accounting.
00:08:13 – Glenn Harper
Gotcha. See, you’re more of a controller and then you take that data, hand it off, and then you analyze it with the owner and tell them what’s going on.
00:08:19 – Kristen Deese
Exactly. Yeah. So the we take the the information that goes to the CPA, they deal with the tax side of things. And then we take that same information and we sit down with ownership and we say, okay, let’s look at how you did. Let’s look at what your trends are. Let’s look on which departments are making money and which departments are. Let’s look at where your holes in the boat are basically, and let’s figure out how to plug them.
00:08:42 – Glenn Harper
Don’t business owners just love getting under the microscope and getting called out on all of those things? It’s the.
00:08:48 – Kristen Deese
No. It’s a really vulnerable situation for business owners to be in, but it’s totally necessary in order to be successful. There are so many times that, you know, these people are running around selling, selling, selling. They’re they’re working really, really, really hard. But then they look at their bank account and they’re like, where is the money? What is going on here? And you have to have that. You have to be able to analyze the information and know what you’re looking at in order to figure out where it’s going.
00:09:15 – Glenn Harper
It’s funny when this whole podcast is empowering entrepreneurs and it’s about helping them get the knowledge transfer so they understand what it means to run a business, not just do the business. And and that is a neat thing that you’re doing because that is something severely lacking for small business owners, for sure. I find it interesting that, you know. The responsibility of being the CFO of multiple companies that are your own, but also then to take that role. It’s an emotional burden because you can’t help. But I’m sure that you feel fully invested helping these clients and you’ve got to get you can’t just cursory look at the numbers, you’ve got to get down into it, down in the detail. And it’s an emotional thing, even though people say it’s not supposed to be. I have to believe it is a little bit for you. I mean, it is for me when we look at clients books because you you want them to succeed, you want to help them, you want to educate them. But boy, up and down, it’s a it’s a traumatic experience for everybody.
00:10:10 – Kristen Deese
Yeah, it’s definitely. You celebrate the wins and then you also mourn the losses when you’re going over that information with those business centres. But it is also really exciting to be able to see growth in the business and in the leadership capabilities of owners when you’ve spent the time with them to teach them how to read their numbers and how to look at their reports and how to use that information to make good business decisions. It’s it’s really neat to see that transformation in the business owners themselves and that tremendous growth that can happen.
00:10:46 – Glenn Harper
It for for me and and I think probably all the other staff that we have on our team and the other accountants, the ability to coach a client along and have them learn something and interpret and be able to make decisions on something they never even understood. You know, a day ago. And all of a sudden they they can speak the language. They know what it means. It’s you know, that that mentoring or just helping them do that is is so powerful because now that that client or that individual, that company can literally achieve something greater. And if we if you do it right, we see they don’t even now, they’re not involved in the operations as much as the business. They’re just like a hands off business owner that just does some things and they can do all the things that they want to do. And that’s the fun part when they realize they have this opportunity to do other things, not just grind away at something.
00:11:37 – Kristen Deese
Right. Yeah, we we definitely talk to the business owners a lot about the difference between strategic tasks and tactical tasks. The tactical tasks are the minute things that have to be done all the time, every day. The physical labor of the of the business and the strategic tasks are is that higher level thinking? And that, you know, let’s look at this from a big picture. Let’s step back and see what does the future look like and where did we where have we been and how do we get to where we want to go? And being able to pull those business outers, the business owners out of that tactical mode and that tactical mindset to be able to look at things strategically just does. A total like mindset shift for them that it doesn’t we don’t I don’t have to be in a truck doing the job and checking on the sites. We can set this up so that other people are doing that and I can focus on the bigger picture of things.
00:12:35 – Glenn Harper
You always have a trick question for clients. We onboard them and even after we’ve had them for a while, it’s always ask them, what is it that you do that actually makes money? Like what do you think your role is? What? What pays the bills? Like, what is that thing that you do? And they always say, Well, it’s this task of doing it. I’m like, That’s not where you make your money yet. Making money is being strategic and planning and putting your team together. And it’s just when they get that aha moment, they’re like, Oh my God, that’s right. What? Why? Just because I am the wizard at fixing a breaker box doesn’t mean I should be doing that. I mean, they’re fun playing black boxes, but that’s not what they should be doing. I mean.
00:13:10 – Kristen Deese
Yeah, there’s a lot of times that they don’t realize that they’re being the bottleneck in their company until you pull them back a little bit. Sometimes you have to pull them back by the collar, pull them back a little bit and be like, Get out of the way. Let your business run. Look at it from the strategic level. Make the decision from that level and just get out of the way. And then all of a sudden it’s like, Oh, wait, this is what leverage is. This is how to leverage.
00:13:33 – Glenn Harper
It’s kind of like you and me, probably. We again, we got some affinities that we share a little bit. And one of those things is, you know, we just dearly love our ten keys, right? And but we don’t really make money on our ten key. But dang, now, but I just can’t stop using it. I don’t know about you. It’s just something fun.
00:13:48 – Kristen Deese
I know it is.
00:13:49 – Julie Smith
He. He used to pack it in his backpack. We’d go away to, like, speak at conferences or whatever, and he’d, like, we’d sit down and he’d go to unzip his backpack. And I’m like, Oh, my gosh, is that a ten key in there? He’s like, You just don’t know. I’m like, Never, ever.
00:14:03 – Glenn Harper
I can’t even add one plus one without a ten key anymore. So it’s very important for me.
00:14:08 – Kristen Deese
I mean, it’s not efficient to use the numbers along the top of the keyboard.
00:14:12 – Glenn Harper
Oh, see, you get it.
00:14:14 – Julie Smith
I have a solar calculator at my desk. It works just fine.
00:14:18 – Glenn Harper
It’s embarrassing. Totally embarrassing. It gives us all kinds of bad name. When did you decide? You know, it’s one thing when you come out of school and you’re doing what you do and you’re working for a living, and then all of a sudden you decide that you’re in your husband or you in a business partner. Are you on your own? You’re going to start a business, you know, how did you decide to do that? I mean, that’s. Did you have a real job where you’re an entrepreneur as a kid? What what made you decide that, hey, I’m going to be a business owner today.
00:14:46 – Kristen Deese
So my my husband made that decision for us a long time ago. He is. He always has been our entrepreneur, visionary. Between the two of us and I have always been the detail oriented. Let’s make sure all of the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted and the money’s where it needs to be and all that kind of stuff. So when we first started our first business many moons ago, I kept a real job, quote unquote, in order to make sure that we could pay the power bill and eat. And then it got to the point where the business that he created was getting to be enough that I was working in the evenings and on the weekends in his business doing all of the accounting things. And then I was still trying to keep this job. And then we had two small children at the time and I was like, okay, this is too much. And I made the leap to move over into that business, and we did that for a long time. Just the one service company. We grew it very large. It was the appliance installation and some plumbing. We grew it very large. And then in 2008 hit. And like everybody else, we kind of had to reel it all back in and really cut out a lot of things.
00:15:56 – Kristen Deese
We went from like four or five states and 50 trucks running down to a very bare minimum just because we were cutting weight everywhere that we could. And then when we came out of that, which we did come out of it barely when we came out of that, then it was kind of like, All right, we’re going to rebuild what we have going on here and kind of make some shifts. And as we got comfortable in that position, that’s when I realized that my area, what I really enjoyed doing was the coaching side of things. I don’t necessarily like being in the day to day, you know, solving problems and putting out fires and all of those things. But I do really enjoy working with business owners and showing them how to get out of that spot. And so after working with our own business coach for quite some time and kind of seeing that transformation in us, I was like, Man, it would be really cool to be able to do this with other business owners. So then I started doing coaching in general. We were I was coaching vision stuff and organizational charts and systems and marketing and finance and, and leadership and the whole thing still only really focusing on the trades because that’s where our experience is.
00:17:15 – Kristen Deese
So I can really relate with those business owners and then ended up just in the last probably two or three years really whittling it down to the systems, the finance, a little bit of the vision stuff. But it’s really that organization and that level of detail that the business owners don’t really want to mess with. They just want it to be done because they kind of feel like if it’s there, it probably would be helpful, but they don’t really necessarily want to put the work in to make it happen. And then there’s all kinds of coaches in in our space and in in spaces all over that really focus in on driving sales and leadership, which is amazing and it’s necessary. But if you don’t have the foundation and the details lined out and your systems in place, your sales, your additional sales that you’re getting from these other training programs are just compounding issues that you already have. So I try to get a hold of them, help them get that foundation really strong. Then when they do ultimately go to sales and leadership training and coaching and whatever, they’re seeing a much higher return on investment on that because their foundation is strong.
00:18:19 – Glenn Harper
It seems like everything’s is packaged for entrepreneurs like the literally the two things that are really the most important in my opinion, other than obviously have to be good at what they do, whatever the product and service they do. But they got to understand the tax consequences and they got to understand their financials to see how they’re performing. And those are literally the two things that just give the heebie jeebies to everybody. And I don’t know why that stereotype is there, but once they learn it and understand it, it’s actually it takes so much stress off of them because they’re like, oh, that’s all there is to that. And I don’t know why it’s so hard. I don’t know if it’s because they’re watching too much TV. I don’t know if it’s a read too many magazines. I don’t know if they just are intimidated by it. But it is the strangest phenomena. Would you agree to that? I mean, it’s weird.
00:19:06 – Kristen Deese
I do agree and I think honestly that it is a level of accountability that a lot of people don’t want to own up to. I think that your numbers hold you accountable, and if you don’t look at them, then who is holding you accountable? So I think that that a lot of times has to do with the desire to to not look at them or to. You know, we’ve got I’ve got a saying that if you don’t pay attention to your numbers, they’re going to get you they’re going to get your attention and probably in a way that you don’t appreciate. And so, you know, you you want to look at the numbers when they’re when it’s a good month and you want to look at the numbers when it’s a bad month. And you need to you need to scrutinize them the same way in both scenarios, because if it’s a bad month, everybody wants to know where the money went and what happened. But if it’s a good month, you need to know why that happened as well so that you can repeat it.
00:19:58 – Glenn Harper
It’s almost like the. Actual numbers are real. And like, it’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. And entrepreneurs, again, they like to freewheel a little bit and they like to do what they feel and think. And that’s why we love entrepreneurs, because they have that manic thing about them side. But at some point you’ve got to get them on point and look at the real things, make real decisions, and then send them off to hunt again. Right. And that’s that’s the fun part.
00:20:23 – Kristen Deese
00:20:24 – Julie Smith
And something you said that, you know, I read your profile is quality over quantity. And I think you’ve you’ve hinted around that a lot, but that’s definitely the pinpoint of what you’re definitely trying to get the owners to do is to get out of their own way in regards to that quality over quantity and having that accountability and having those systems in place in order to have that, if you, in my opinion, you know, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
00:20:49 – Kristen Deese
Yeah. For sure. It’s that it’s it goes back to the, the idea that if you have problems in your systems and you have problems if you’ve got problems when you’re small and you throw more sales on top of it, all you’re going to do is have bigger problems when you’re big. So solve them and then dump a bunch of sales onto it and then it’ll flourish.
00:21:08 – Glenn Harper
That’s a bunch of poppycock. That is not true. That is not I don’t know who told you that, but that’s simply not true. You’ve got more sales. More sales. So your upbringing, when you’re doing work, doing things on the farm, do you think, you know, a lot of entrepreneurs have this insatiable appetite to challenge themselves, do more than it’s expected, and just really can’t get enough of what they do. And that comes, you know, sometimes your program that way, sometimes you are instilled that work ethic when you’re you’re young or you see something with an athlete in the military, you know, police officer or farmer, just something where you have to do way more than is expected. You have to get up early. You’ve got to do those things again. Who doesn’t love shovel manure? But I mean, like to be able to do those things. Do you feel like that gave you a good base to say like, I can roll up my sleeves and get into this, this isn’t a problem.
00:22:01 – Kristen Deese
Oh yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s work ethic was something that was instilled in me from as early as I can remember. And I definitely think that there is. There is that drive in entrepreneurs that isn’t found in everybody, which is a good thing because we don’t need everybody to be entrepreneurs. We need some people to just roll up their sleeves and do the work. I know that it like like a lot of people, there is a tendency to roll up the sleeves and do the work when you shouldn’t be right, when somebody else should be doing it, or you should be kind of backing out. But, you know. Spending the time early on and working hard and seeing what happens when you do work hard, when you do a good job, you know, maybe you get the promotion or maybe you see the next opportunity. It just opens up a whole world of who knows what could have happened right? When I was a teenager, I never in a million years would have thought that we would be running multiple businesses and, you know, doing coaching and CFO services and whatever. And here I am doing the things.
00:23:16 – Julie Smith
So when you look back and I know Glenn’s, you know, kind of went back on, you know, your childhood, do you think that there is someone from your childhood or maybe someone in college or someone early on, even in your real job that you would consider consider a mentor that had a big impact on your life, even where you are today.
00:23:36 – Kristen Deese
Yeah. I had a mentor in my I had a job in when I was in college and it was at a hair salon actually, of all places. And I was kind of like the salon manager and I was very young, under 21 for sure, because I would have been I was in college at the time and the business owner was probably about ten years older than me. So she wasn’t she was still young herself, but she was very intelligent in the terms of running the business. And she kind of took me under her wing and taught me a whole lot about the back end of running a business that would have taken me quite a bit longer to learn had she not done that. And that kind of was probably the first time I really saw numbers and trending and like statistics from a business standpoint in that way. And I didn’t necessarily realize how much I really how much I enjoyed it at that point. A couple of years later, I was like, okay, now I understand that this is really cool, but I was actually doing that work several years prior and not even really realizing it.
00:24:46 – Kristen Deese
We were looking at individual stylist sales and creating commission reports and looking at expenses and how much does it cost when the shampoo person does two pumps versus one pump, when they’re doing a shampoo, like all of those kind of things. We were analyzing and I was doing that, that whole trending in numbers way before I even realized what I was doing. So there was I think I definitely leaped forward while I worked there in a way that even though I’m taking classes in college and I’m learning, I’m learning about risk and I’m learning about fraud and I’m learning about all of these big business, very corporate accounting ideas on the side. I’m doing like real small business things, and those are not the type of skills that I would have learned taking the classes that I was taking in school because I was learning like the bigger auditing and stuff like that. So it was it was kind of a neat experience and especially looking back, obviously hindsight’s 2020, right? So you can see when you look back, you’re like, Oh, that really was a very impactful time.
00:25:55 – Glenn Harper
It too. Comments on that. So hopefully you figured out a way to give the two pumps and charge an extra $0.20 for the thing because people want a lot of lather when they go in there. So that’s important to do that and make sure you’re making the money. But that other part too is the ability to it. When I was in school, I was working a real job and and in accounting. And it was amazing when you go to class and you learn a concept, but you have and then you go back to the office and you actually integrate it, you’re like, wow. It just, you know, you learn by doing you kind of you’re almost teaching to learn. And it really accelerates how much faster that stuff resonates with you. Right. And so I can definitely see where that could have happened for you.
00:26:40 – Julie Smith
Have you been able to keep that relationship and keep in contact?
00:26:46 – Kristen Deese
For the first several years after I left, we did. We kind of grew apart a little bit. And now it’s a connection once every couple of years and it’s, oh, my gosh, how have you been? La la la la. And then a couple more years, we’ll do it again.
00:27:00 – Glenn Harper
Do you find when you are you know, when you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get dirty and get into the into the guts of things, do you find that that creates a situation where you can be a more more of a leader than a boss? Because you’re you show that you’re willing to do the work. You’ve done it before. You have. Like, don’t try to tell me anyone in this office. I did everything you guys have done and you can lead by example versus stand there dictating. Is that is that something you felt has helped you as well?
00:27:34 – Kristen Deese
Absolutely. And not only has it helped from the leadership standpoint, but it also helps keep me relevant in the situations that these business owners and their employees are going through on a regular basis. So that’s part of why I still enjoy and appreciate doing the CFO services for the businesses that we own is because then when I am working with these other business owners, they’re experiencing a lot of the same things that we are experiencing. So we can kind of almost bounce back and forth between what what have we tried, what worked, what didn’t work. Here’s what we do in our business. Let me help you implement that into your business. And so absolutely the trick is finding the balance of rolling up my sleeves and getting to work and showing showing the people that I am still willing to do that and stepping across the line of not delegating when I should, because we fall into the trap of it’s easier to just do it myself than it would be to train somebody else to do it or to come up with a system or whatever. And at that point, it’s when you turn into the bottleneck when you may not necessarily realize it. So it’s definitely striking that line between, Yep, I’m going to roll up my sleeves and help and stay relevant. And also let me make sure that this isn’t something that really should be delegated to somebody else.
00:28:58 – Glenn Harper
I feel like there’s always somebody watching over my shoulder making sure that I’ll do that because it’s really, really easy because we have all this knowledge on the wisdom that again, we can look at a problem and we can get from A to Z in like eight nanoseconds. And if we hand it off to somebody, it’s going to take them three days. But they’ve got to struggle. They got to figure it out. You’ve got to coach them along and they’ll get there. Then maybe the fifth time they can do it in a couple of minutes, you know. But it’s hard because you just want that instant results and get things done.
00:29:30 – Kristen Deese
00:29:30 – Glenn Harper
Do you feel like at any point in time, like now you’ve been doing this for how many years? The CFO thing.
00:29:41 – Kristen Deese
The four other companies I’ve been doing CFO for about two years.
00:29:44 – Glenn Harper
Two years. And when you were doing the CFO for your current companies, you’ve been doing that for a while, right? That started way back when. Is there anything way back? Do you feel like there’s a was a point in time where you’re like, Man, if I had just known that, then where would I be today? Was there. When you look back, is there that moment where you’re like, when you’re sitting here today going, Gosh, if I had just known that little formula 15 years ago, I’d be a kajillionaire. Is that does that something that that hits you? Are you are you already just. Yeah, I got it. I’m just moving on.
00:30:22 – Kristen Deese
So I think that. There’s probably a couple. One would be. When we figured out that when we started separating our our the company by departments and looking at department profitability, we started seeing this was like ten years ago, we started seeing that there was one department or wing that just really was underperforming. But that department brought in a lot of sales. And so we were terrified to let it go because it boosted the sales number. But when you got all the way down to the bottom, it was not doing anything for the bottom line. And so we were really scared to let that go and make that decision and kind of take that step in it. You know, looking at the opportunity costs and if if it’s not making any money and we put that energy somewhere else, what could we be doing instead? And all of those things. So if we could have figured that out a little bit earlier, that would have been cool. And also it stays on the forefront now when we’re looking at our different departments numbers as in terms of do we need to continue to provide the service, is it profitable or do we need to make a change or we need to let it go all together? I think the other thing that kind of piggybacks off of that is it took us when I say us, I would say probably just in. My husband is a little bit more guilty of this than I am.
00:31:51 – Glenn Harper
But of course, it’s as.
00:31:52 – Kristen Deese
Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs want to say yes to everything, right? Like every opportunity that looks kind of shiny, they want to say yes, too. And so I would be on board. I’d be like, Yeah, yeah, let’s do it, let’s do it. Sounds great, whatever. And then it would completely take us off course of the vision that we had or it would just kind of we were all over the place for a little while. Again, this was years ago, so it took us both a while to be able to figure out what was something that we should say yes to versus what was something that we should thank you, but no thank you. In terms of looking at opportunities and again, if if that’s something that we could have figured out earlier, then we could have been more dialed in on a direction and a vision earlier on. I think that we’re we’re dialed in now, but it didn’t happen. It took half of the time that we were business owners for that to happen. So imagine if we would have been able to do that from the beginning, what this whole thing would look like. I think those are probably two of the. Two of the key. Had I known now what I knew then.
00:33:03 – Glenn Harper
What it could have showed. The the one thing you mentioned, and I think that’s probably, you know, everybody has a why they do what they do and it’s your why is not that you love numbers. I mean, obviously you’re doing your accountant, for God’s sakes. We love numbers. But I think it’s more of the fact that you want to help. And when you walk into a client and you understand, we see this a lot in our business, a lot that, you know, a client is all driven about their gross sales. It’s not about the gross, it’s about the margin. Right. And, oh, I sold 10 million last year. Well, how much did you make? You know, ten bucks. I’m like, Well, I got a guy over here. It’s sold 1000 and May 900. Who would you rather be? Right. So being able to for you kind of understanding that a ha moment in your own business and now you’re out coaching and teaching other people this, that’s got to be one of the first things you talk about and that has got to be really, really well received for a client to understand that it’s not about how much I mean, sales are important and what you sell for, but it’s not what you sell it for, what you make on it. And I feel like that is a very impactful thing that you’re doing for people that again, you’re helping them accelerate and get over that hump, that it took you a long time to figure it out. Right.
00:34:11 – Kristen Deese
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the idea would be to help them shorten their learning curve, right? Like we took we took the long way. We took the long route there. But to be able to help them shorten the learning curve and get to the profitability that they want to be at faster obviously is the ultimate goal. There’s a lot of times that I talk to business owners who are just in complete overwhelm. They’re running, they’re running ragged, their business is running them. They’ve got customers who are beating on the doors, wanting things, and they have employees that they’re having a hard time dealing with. And, you know, they don’t know their numbers. They’re they’re gauging whether or not they’re doing well by the cash that’s sitting in the bank and whether or not they can make their next payroll. And it’s a tough place to be in. And I know that because I’ve been there. And it’s it feels like, you know, you go through periods of time when you’re like, what am I even doing this for? I just seem to throw it all away and go get a job that I can go to work and I can come home and I can get a paycheck on Friday, and that’s it. But that’s not the entrepreneurial way. No, it’s not. So it’s so going in and being like, okay, cool. I know it’s chaotic right now and I have been in those shoes, so let’s get to work on fixing this and then pulling them out of that and fixing all of the things and then setting them back out on their little journey. That is the reason that I do the things, because it just it hurts my heart to see when they’re struggling because we were there, too. And I can I definitely know I’m living the example that there is 100% a better way to run your business.
00:35:47 – Glenn Harper
Don’t you feel like entrepreneurs definitely have a screw loose? I mean, we’re definitely a little bit odd because who who wakes up every day negative and is happy to go perform and try to turn that into a positive. And the cool thing is, once entrepreneurs recognize that they need that help, like you said, you had a coach before you even as you were doing your business, you had a coach as entrepreneurs realized that that coach and you’re doing that for these as a CFO, you’re basically their coach, right? It’s not about the numbers. It’s really about your mental state. It’s amazing how somebody could be so close to burning out and just they can’t take it anymore, but they really, really want to do it. And all of a sudden they get this little key and then, boom, they are off to the races. And it’s it’s the greatest feeling ever for me anyway. That’s why I love doing what I do. But I’d imagine it’s very similar for you.
00:36:38 – Kristen Deese
Yeah, for sure.
00:36:41 – Julie Smith
So early on. You know, I know that your husband was the reason you guys kind of went into this and you were kind of doing the real job. But at what point do you think you knew or you and your husband decided to? We need a team and we have to kind of get out of our own way. We have to be able to kind of build this team and delegate. And I just curious at what point you had that moment?
00:37:06 – Kristen Deese
It did not take very long to get to that point from the technician labor standpoint, because Justin was the only one doing the technical labor and he was also trying to answer the phone and he was trying to talk to the stores and he was trying to do all of these things. And so it didn’t take long for him to be like, this is for the birds, somebody else. We need to get somebody else in here to help with the actual technical part of it, the technical labor part. And then so there was so we brought in the first technician, which by the way, is still with us today. He’s our general manager of our business in Atlanta. So he came in and started helping and then. I want to say we probably brought in somebody who sat in like a CSR position, even if it was just from a part time standpoint to kind of help with some of the administrative things. But the point where it was like, okay, we need somebody is the puppet for I am out the door by five running the entire day home at ten, 11, 12:00 at night, sleeping for a couple of hours and getting up and doing it all over again. You can only do that for a certain period of time before you’re like, Okay, something’s got to give.
00:38:30 – Kristen Deese
And then for from me and the job standpoint, it was a strain on the relationship. It was a strain on the House in general to have him gone all the time. Because then I am doing the pickups at daycare and I’m going to work and then I’m picking up at daycare at the end of the day, and then we’re doing dinner and bath and the whole thing, and then I get the hour. We only had one child at the time, so get him into bed at eight and from 8 to 11 or 12 at night. I’m working on sending out invoices and collecting payments and doing all those things to the point where we were both working so many hours that we were like, Well, this is kind of stupid, why are we doing this? So we had to we had to grow. We didn’t have a choice. We didn’t have to grow. We didn’t have the money to do it. We didn’t know how we were going to do it or we didn’t know what the employees are going to look like. But we like we need some help. This is getting out of control.
00:39:21 – Glenn Harper
Yeah, definitely say that. You know, that’s not for everybody. But literally, if you can get through that period, you can help get that key. There is light on the other side. Unless you suck at what you do right, then that doesn’t matter. But if you’re if you’re if you’re good at what you do and, you know, like and I’d imagine to just and still wear his tool belt around the house as he walk around thinking he’s all that or is he doesn’t even wear one anymore.
00:39:44 – Kristen Deese
Here does not. As a matter of fact, there there is we have several go to contractors for our jobs around the house. So he is completely embraced, not doing the technical work.
00:39:59 – Glenn Harper
Well, I got to talk to that guy because I feel like he’s got to get shocked in an electrical receptacle at some point just to make sure it works.
00:40:05 – Julie Smith
I feel like he has defined delegation, you know, to the point of delegation. Right. He’s got it down.
00:40:12 – Glenn Harper
Got a doctorate and a doctorate in delegation. Did you have a you know, I listen to one of your podcasts, which is which is weird because I don’t listen to anything ever. I’m kidding, of course. But you had a thing that you talk about clients that you have you have them do this exercise of of writing their own little thing. You know what I’m talking about. You want to share with that how that works and how is that received by the clients?
00:40:39 – Kristen Deese
The analogy exercise.
00:40:41 – Glenn Harper
Yeah, I think it’s fantastic.
00:40:43 – Kristen Deese
So. So that was an exercise that our business coach had us do when we were trying to basically find figure out why it is that we were doing what we were doing. So there’s a couple of different ways that you can get to that. Some people do the seven layer. Why? Why are you doing this? Because of this. Well, why? Why do you want that? And you just kind of keep asking why that’s impactful. However, I think the eulogy exercise is more impactful from like an internal soul shaking kind of way because you you literally write what you want, your eulogy to read or what you would want somebody to say as your eulogy at your funeral. And it kind of. Makes everything very real, and it really helps you highlight the handful of things that are ultimately important. You know, you say that you want to be a business owner because you want to make more money. Well, making a bunch of money and dying with a bunch of money isn’t something that you would want necessarily to be put in your eulogy.
00:41:52 – Kristen Deese
Right. So if you if you work out the exercise, very humbling exercise of writing your eulogy, then you’re really striking the what do you want to be known for? What what do you want to die knowing that you’ve done? Knowing what kind of person you are. The characteristics that you have. And when you can highlight that out of your eulogy, then going forward and making your vision, it kind of can ground that vision more deeply than if it was just something that was superficial. I want to make more money. So it’s definitely a really humbling exercise. There are. I’ve only had a few people push back on that exercise. Most people will do it and they’ll, you know, they’ll kind of like scratch the surface and then we’ll go over it. And then I’d be like, All right, cool. Take it back and let’s dig a little deeper. And then you can tell when they when they kind of hit the the core of it. So it’s really a very impactful exercise. And while it sounds really like morbid, it’s got good purpose.
00:43:08 – Glenn Harper
I think it’s genius. I mean, everybody’s got to know the why and what are you trying to accomplish? Because for you, this is this is like one of the trick questions. Not that I haven’t given you like 20 of them already, but this one is what is the end game? I mean, are you going to try to do this CFO thing for another 20 companies, 50 companies? You’re going to scale and put other people in. Are you going to grow your business to be in all 50 states? Are you going to open up a ton of other businesses? You’re going to milk this thing and just coders in the sunset. What exactly is Kristen’s endgame on this?
00:43:41 – Kristen Deese
My end game is is just my clientele. I don’t plan on bringing on any other coaches or growing and scaling to that size. I thoroughly enjoy having a handful of clients at a time and building really strong, lasting relationships with these business owners, as opposed to the very low touch hitting a lot of people at the same time. Idea. I leave the. Growing to 50 states and the things that we’re doing to Justin because he’s that’s where he operates. Like that’s the brain space that he operates in, which is super amazing. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the book Rocket Fuel by Gina Wickman. So that book is really cool because it highlights the personalities of the visionary and the integrator and that how both personalities are necessary in order to have a successful business. And very rarely is one person, both personalities in just a nice case. We are definitely the individuals. So he is the visionary and I’m in the integrator. I by doing this virtual CFO, I’m able to scratch the itch of the integrator for other businesses too, not just my own. And so, you know, it’s not necessarily a desire of mine to grow this particular arm of what we do into this ginormous business. I’m more after, you know, finding the people that that need me and that want to use me and building that relationship and making them better and sending them on their way and then doing that with the next client and just kind of trucking along until I decide that I want to retire on an island and Turks and Caicos.
00:45:28 – Glenn Harper
I think that’s fantastic. I have this feeling that Justin’s got a split personality. He really wants to be an integrator, too, but he decides that that you like that better. So he’s going to step back from that. That’s what I think is going on. Yeah, I’m kidding. Of course. Well, is there do you want to give a you want to give a plug to your company? And so people might be able to look you up and do something with that.
00:45:50 – Kristen Deese
Yeah. So my website is Kristin Dotcom and the services and the different things from the virtual CFO standpoint that I do are on that site. And one thing that we didn’t bring up is that just you and I are authors. We wrote a book called When Your Business Partner Is Your Spouse How to Have a Successful Business and a Happy Marriage. And that book can be found on my website and on Audible.
00:46:16 – Glenn Harper
Is that under fiction or non-fiction? I’m kidding. 100% true. It’s a it’s an amazing when you get that clarity to make that work, because it is hard to do that. And when you figure it out, it is it is going to be very rewarding. Well, I appreciate your time today. Thanks for coming on. And hopefully this was rewarding for you as it was for us. And I hope our listeners can glean something from this and say, You know what, that’s going to inspire me to be a better entrepreneur. This is Glen Harper.
00:46:44 – Kristen Deese
Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.
00:46:46 – Glenn Harper
00:46:47 – Julie Smith
And Julie Smith,
00:46:48 – Glenn Harper
Episode Show Notes
As she notes on LI, Kristen Deese is …”Systems Genius, Business Coach, CBC and Co-Author of When Your Business Partner is Your Spouse, I am the brains behind the Braun of our plumbing, HVAC and remediation company. I’ve been in the trades, running the behind-the-scenes functions, serving all our businesses as the CFO, for nearly 20 years.”
She continues – “What really gets me FIRED UP is coaching and training other business owners in our industry how to make more profit. There are plenty of people out there to help these businesses generate higher sales – that’s not what I do – I teach them how to make more money.”
As a business coach, she goes beyond the typical CPA numbers and looks at business’ growth areas.
You celebrate the wins and then you also mourn the losses when you’re going over that information with those business centers. But it is also really exciting to be able to see growth in the business and in the leadership capabilities of owners when you’ve spent the time with them to teach them how to read their numbers and how to look at their reports and how to use that information to make good business decisions.
She goes into detail about the work she does with her clients…
We definitely talk to the business owners a lot about the difference between strategic tasks and tactical tasks. The tactical tasks are the minute things that have to be done all the time, every day. The strategic tasks are is that higher-level thinking? Let’s look at this from the big picture. Let’s step back and see what does the future look like and where did we where have been and how do we get to where we want to go?
In her opinion, this is the best way for entrepreneurs to grow…
There are a lot of times that they don’t realize that they’re being the bottleneck in their company until you pull them back a little bit. Sometimes you have to pull them back by the collar, pull them back a little bit and be like, “Get out of the way. Let your business run. Look at it from the strategic level. Make the decision from that level and just get out of the way.”
How did she decide business coaching was for her?
I don’t necessarily like being in the day to day, you know, solving problems and putting out fires and all of those things. But I do really enjoy working with business owners and showing them how to get out of that spot. And so after working with our own business coach for quite some time and kind of seeing that transformation in us, I was like, “Man, it would be really cool to be able to do this with other business owners.”
Very few entrepreneurs like to look at their own numbers. They want to grow their business the way they know how. And looking at numbers isn’t very sexy. But Kristen looks at it differently…
I think that your numbers hold you accountable, and if you don’t look at them, then who is holding you accountable? So I think that it has to do with the desire to not look at them. I’ve got a saying that “if you don’t pay attention to your numbers, they’re going to get your attention.” And probably in a way that you don’t appreciate. You want to look at the numbers when it’s a good month and you want to look at the numbers when it’s a bad month.
And her thoughts on mentors…
I had a mentor in my I had a job when I was in college and it was at a hair salon actually, of all places. The manager took me under her wing and taught me a whole lot about the back end of running a business. We were looking at individual stylist sales and creating commission reports and looking at expenses and how much does it cost when the shampoo person does two pumps versus one pump, when they’re doing a shampoo, like all of those sorts of things. I’m learning about risk and I’m learning about fraud and I’m learning about all of these big business, very corporate accounting ideas on the side.
What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?
Entrepreneurs want to say yes to everything, right? Like every opportunity that looks kind of shiny, they want to say yes to. And so I would be on board. I’d be like, Yeah, yeah, let’s do it, let’s do it. Sounds great, whatever. And then it would completely take us off course of the vision that we had or it would just kind of we were all over the place for a little while. Again, this was years ago, so it took us both a while to be able to figure out what was something that we should say yes to versus what was something that we should thank you, but no thank you.
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