On today’s episode, Kunle is joined by Wayne Richard, Partner, and Managing Director in the USA of Bean Ninjas, an accounting firm helping eCommerce scale.
“It was about building relationships.” Wayne’s success in life comes down to his roots. When faced with an option between relocating with his family or severance pay, he took the severance pay and decided to build his own accounting firm but when it was picking up, it took his time from his family which led him to seek out accounting spaces with a business lifestyle that is family-centered.
Bean Ninja, an accounting firm where Wayne found the work lifestyle he was looking for as well as seeing an opportunity to share his strengths for the company. Wayne shares some of the company’s best practices in helping eCommerce companies scale efficiently.
It’s an insightful episode as you’d hear Kunle and Wayne talk more about profitability, growth, and efficiency, the best practices and common mistakes in scaling, unit economics, and choosing the right fintech product for your company.
Here is a summary of some of the most important points made:
On this episode, Kunle and Wayne discuss:
Q: What advice would you give yourself five years ago?
A: Go for it.
Q: Who’s been your most meaningful business contact in the last five years?
A: I learned a tremendous amount from Taylor Holiday at Common Thread Collective about diving in the excitement around eCommerce finances.
Q: Are you a morning person?
A: I’m an extremely morning person.
Q: What does your morning routine look like?
A: Wake up approximately 45 minutes before my children, do a bit of devotional Bible study, and step into some personal reading, a typical professional or personal development book with my hot morning coffee. After 45 minutes, getting the kids up to school, myself to the gym, shower, breakfast, and into the work routine.
Q: What book are you currently reading or listening to?
A: I’m rereading Man’s Search For Meaning, Victor Frankl.
Q: What’s been your best mistake today? By that, I mean a setback that’s given you the biggest feedback.
A: Thinking I could build a business by myself. In my early days, trying to handle all areas of business proved to be a learning that was critical for me at that time. Also, to understand the importance of leveraging experts and others’ strengths to help support a greater goal, which was to build a larger business than I could do on my own.
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On this episode, I’m joined by an eCommerce accountant to discuss the importance of financial literacy for eCommerce entrepreneurs and how to effectively track and measure financial metrics to drive growth and efficiency.
On this episode, I’m joined by Wayne Richard, a partner and COO at Bean Ninjas, a Tuscan Arizona-based accounting firm that helps eCommerce brands in the $1 million to $10 million revenue bracket scale up. Wayne forged a 15-year career with tech heavyweight Hewlett Packard before starting his own eCommerce-focused cloud accounting firm.
Why should you read this episode? If you’re an eCommerce business owner, Wayne breaks down the core financial metrics you need to know to help you make more informed decisions and manage growth and your cashflow effectively. Secondly, to achieve profitable growth, eCommerce businesses need to be focusing on both growth metrics, which are percentage growth, key margins, net free cashflow, and efficiency metrics, which are metrics like inventory turnover, marketing, return on advertising spend, and operating expenses. Wayne breaks down every one of them.
Finally, when considering financial products like revenue-based financing, eCommerce businesses should proceed with caution and carefully evaluate the true cost of lending before committing to a loan. If you want to get a quick 45-minute masterclass on accounting and bookkeeping fundamentals for effectively running an eCommerce business, pay attention. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Wayne, welcome to the 2X eCommerce podcast.
Thanks for having me, Kunle.
I’ve been looking forward to this one. I made a promise to the audience that, in addition to marketing and growth, we’ll be speaking to operations and finance. I managed to get someone to talk about cash conversion cycles, which was a terrific episode, had lots of downloads, and there’s a lot of value in that. We’re talking about eCommerce accounting and I’m excited. Before we jump right in, I’d like to know a bit about your background. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? Give us a quick backstory, please.
I’m a partner at Bean Ninjas. I grew up in a blue-collar manufacturing town in Massachusetts. Our town’s claim to fame was we were the Chair City of New England. We had many factories where folks would work building furniture that you would find in many of the family’s homes, your dining room table, and the chairs that surrounded it. We also had a bit of industry in the fire alarm business where there was a big employer that was responsible for a lot of the fire alarm systems that go into commercial and industrial buildings.
Growing up, there was an opportunity for folks to either go step in and work alongside their parents in these factories or pursue higher education. The third option was the military. I had been a good student and had been drilled by my parents that university was the path that I needed to get into a good college and get a degree so that I could work for a big company. That path would lead me to lifestyle freedom. I would work my time and I would reach an age at which I’d be able to retire and my life would be provided for in that path. I soon discovered that some of that worked out well.
I was fortunate, I graduated with a degree in accounting. I stepped into working for a government contractor outside of Washington, DC that was eventually acquired by Hewlett-Packard. My time at Hewlett-Packard was an amazing learning experience. At the time, they had one of the top finance programs in the world. Of course, most folks know HP from printers, laptop computers, and desktop computers.
The efforts that we were supporting were a bit different. We were part of a finance team responsible for outsourced government contracting work. It simply meant, for us, we met with vice presidents and different operations managers to help them understand and plan their business finance. There were certain budgets that we committed to at the beginning of each year to which we had to help them manage the spend and the achievement across certain performance standards.
After about a sixteen-year career, I was met with an opportunity, a big decision, a fork in the road, to either charge forward and relocate my family, which at the time, my wife and our five children after being surprised by triplets, or accept a severance based on my inability or unwillingness to relocate and use that runway to seed a goal or an itch that I had had for years and that was to pursue entrepreneurship.
That path for me looked like simply delivering services that I learned many people lacked in starting their businesses. It was centered around what I had been responsible for at HP. How can we help business owners understand how to manage appropriately their finances? At that time, alongside QuickBooks, there was a tool called Xero, which is an accounting platform, and well-known throughout Australia, New Zealand, and the UK as well. That was starting to pick up Steam in the US as well. I thought I needed a differentiator. I had learned that or read it in an entrepreneurship book and said, “That will be my differentiator.”
I now live in Tucson, Arizona, which has a big Intuit building. Intuit is a large employer here in town. My competition in launching an accounting firm or a bookkeeping service at that time was against folks that had spent twenty years building QuickBooks. My fear early on was if these folks know so much more about the product, I need to do something different. I launched a Xero bookkeeping services business but found that less important than the product or the technology that was being deployed.
It was about building relationships and a lot of accountings establishing trust and getting comfortable in having difficult conversations with your customers. I was able to leverage my strength of connecting quickly with people, being empathetic myself as a small business owner with a family, and a short runway to make something happen. A lot of those early discussions were heartfelt conversations about goals. What are you wanting to achieve?
For some of my early customers, it was something as simple, “I want to leave my full-time job and fully be involved in this venture that we seem to be working on together.” That first opportunity led me to a horrible consultant role, I’ve had too many customers. The path that I had searched for in creating time freedom to be available to my wife and family was now consumed with a lot of customers and high demands of my time.
I searched for others in the accounting space that was building more lifestyle family-centered businesses but also leveraging the same technologies. I came across blog posts from a firm in Australia called Bean Ninjas, connected with the founder, and we hit it off from that first conversation. It was clear to both of us that we had similar goals but also that our strengths offset each other’s weaknesses.
After a few other conversations, we discussed having my smaller portfolio of customers acquired by Bean Ninjas and aligned my role to focus on our growth in the US while my business partner focused on growth throughout Australia and the UK. I’ve now been with Bean Ninjas as a partner and managing director of our US portfolio for over five years. We’ve begun to step into exclusively servicing eCommerce brands as early as 2019 and have focused our attention there.
What was your major in university that led you to HP?
It was accounting in information systems. A bit of a funny story, I enrolled in college as a sports management major. In my first class intro to sports management, the instructor opened the course and said, “Many of you will never work in this profession. If you do, you’ll often work for free or for little money with long hours. Some of you, maybe no one in this room will get a chance to work for a professional organization.”
I left that class slightly defeated and stepped into my intro to accounting class. That professor stood in front of the class and said, “Every single one of you will be in high demand. You can work in any industry. You will make top dollar. You can work for the FBI, the US government private industry, some of the world’s largest corporations, or professional sports teams.” I walked from that second class into the administration office and changed my major.
Two good people were honest with their advice and I could see it was effective. Let’s jump right into commerce, bookkeeping, and accountancy. A lot of the readers in this podcast are already operating and running their eCommerce businesses or they’re supporting the growth of an existing eCommerce business, a seven-figure eCommerce business, $1 million plus in revenue. In your opinion, what are the fundamental habits or things to do to ready yourself to the next milestone? Whether you’re a seven-figure business, what you do to get to eight-figures.
If you’re an eight-figure business, there are completely different sets of rules to manage yourself to nine figures if there is the capacity to. Let’s start with 7 to 8 figures. What are the best or the fastest-growing seven-figure businesses from your experience? You guys have a portfolio. I haven’t asked you the size of your client portfolio but you have a sizable client portfolio. What are you seeing them do? What are you seeing the lacking businesses get wrong a majority of the time?
Scaling quickly can be exciting and you do need that solid financial foundation in place to ensure that your business can handle the growth and that the growth that you’re achieving is sustainable. Some of the tips that I recommend for those brands that are scaling past six figures into seven figures is first to set a roadmap. Setting financial goals for your business and creating a plan to achieve them is critical. This roadmap initially will be set heavy in assumptions. You simply don’t have the data to make as informed assumptions in this first pass as you’d like.
I recommend trying to include projections for things like sales and expenses. More importantly, the cashflow needs that are required to support these goals. Having a roadmap in place will help you stay focused in those areas where you need to make the most informed decisions as you scale. Over time, as you begin to understand those key assumptions and the results of your actual performance against these assumptions, you begin to understand where to double down, or where you’re repeatedly incorrect and need to begin to course correct.
A second thing on top of setting a roadmap is being disciplined to focus on profitability. A lot of conversation around scale is assumed around gross sales, top line, and six figures. When we say six figures initially, I’m sure everyone thought of sales of over $100,000. When we say seven figures, folks think of sales of over $1 million. They don’t consider largely the focus on profitability.
It’s important to prioritize profitability over revenue growth and this means focusing on those products and channels that have the higher profit margins and being strategic about where you invest your marketing or advertising spend. Also, prioritizing profitability will help you make more informed decisions on where to reinvest within your business to sustain that growth over the long term.
Having that clear roadmap of where you’re going and understanding the cost implications to how to get there and at the same time, also focusing on profitability for that rock-solid foundation for growth. With regards to tracking data on a particular cadence, when you speak to profitability, what metrics should teams be looking at that lead to profitability? It’s one thing looking at that number. What metrics that ultimately will affect the outcome of profitability should they be looking at and at what cadence?
At a minimum, brands need to be in a position with the right tools, support, and processes to be receiving their financial reports in a timely and accurate manner each month. The metrics that they should be focused on are certainly top-line sales. You want it across channel. You want to understand if I’m seeing sales across Amazon, Shopify, and Walmart, I want to understand which one of those channels is continuing to grow. Understanding certainly from that top line where you’re seeing the highest impact of growth is important.
Beyond that, it’s understanding the margins. When I speak to margins, we present to customers various margins to help them identify the spend across major categories in their business. The first one that I’ll discuss is gross margin. Simply, if you take your sales in a particular platform and you then reduce from those sales the cost of the product, the cost of the merchant fees, the marketplace expenses that went into selling a unit, and some of the shipping fees that were attributable to that sale, you can then identify what your gross margins are.
Even more important than that, in an age where much of the opportunity to scale is based on paid advertising, understand what your contribution after marketing is. The next major category of spend that we capture and present in our financial reports is gross margin less customer acquisition cost. This presents you with that contribution margin after marketing. This is the fuel that helps you invest in your team and in those operating expenses that are required for any business.
After you’re looking at your margins, I would say the last margin to focus on is your net operating margin. Some call this EBITDA. It’s that bottom line margin after spending your business subscriptions, your wages, and team cost, what’s left over at the end of each month. Outside of those margins that are visible on a typical profit and loss statement, it’s important to focus on the movement of cash through your business each and every month.
As your readers well know, the movement of cash does not directly align with when expenses come in. You’re often in a position as a brand to invest or spend cash much earlier on the product than you have the opportunity based on different accounting structures to recognize that expense. I believe in tracking your free cashflow and this could be simply looking at your bank balance repeatedly over time.
You mentioned cadence. I would say reviewing your profit and loss balance sheet and cashflow statement each month. It can be a simple Google sheet scorecard that helps you understand, “How much deposits are posted in my accounts from customer receipts? How much cash went out of my business each week?” You’ll begin, over time, to understand the trends, “The second week of the month typically is heavy and our largest subscriptions or our agency fees tend to come out that week.”
You want to be mindful of when you’re beginning to plan for large restock POs and shipping out wires for deposits. The timing to when you will have that cash available or otherwise with the guidance of knowing when you plan to outlay cash being in front of those conversations to outsource to a financing solution or find other means to obtain the working capital needed to support those cash outlays without having it be an emergency or a time when you need to make hasty decisions based on limited time.
I resonated with that, the gross profit, your cashflow, and looking at your OpEx. It makes a lot of sense. You finally arrive at your net profits. Good stuff there. With the spreadsheet, do you want to break down what component should be in this spreadsheet? You talked about charting out your expenses and incomings. Is it that simple or would you put other metrics into the spreadsheet you track or founders track or teams track?
It could be overwhelming at times for those operating brands. Because of the vast complexity of eCommerce, there are so many levers that one can pull. It’s important to have a focus. Within our own business, we select key areas of focus each quarter perhaps for a period of thirteen weeks or a traditional quarter, you have a focus on reducing your cost of goods sold in addition to your fulfillment, in addition to your 3PL fees, in addition to your postage, and your packaging.
What you might do in that case is look at that grouping as a percentage of sales. The metric we would track is the percentage of sales expended on the cost of sales. Each week, you’re able to then gauge as a percentage the impact of those decisions and negotiations and cost savings initiatives that you’re building throughout that thirteen-week period. Dashboards are critical for all businesses and they shouldn’t be kept to just finances.
It’s important where finances often become lagging indicators, it’s a story in numbers of the decisions you’ve already made. You may love that story and that may be a great story that you want to continue, but what you’ve learned is to continue to make the same decisions. Reinforce those habits that got you those results. Oftentimes, when we are in conversations with brands to help support the narrative and drawing out that story within their numbers, they don’t like what the story has been telling them.
They’re searching for guidance across, “How can I tell a better story with this business through numbers?” Often, it means changing habits or making different decisions because you can’t repeatedly make the same decisions and expect different results. Oftentimes, when we ask the question, “How long has it been since you’ve increased your pricing?” The seller will say, “It’s a competitive industry and I’ve not seen significant growth.”
Every dollar or every percentage increase in price is the same percentage increase in profit if you change nothing in your expenses. It’s beginning to ask, “What habits or what actions need to be taken to help tell the story I want to achieve?” That’s where it helps influence the decision on what metrics should go in. Generally, one strategy that we use is to look at those grouping of expenses as a percentage of sales and then from that, you have a standard baseline to which you can measure the impact of changes over.
My next question has to do with the cadence. You talked about getting scheduled management reports, your P&L, on a regular basis. When is it too late? We’re in April 2023. When should you be getting your March 2023 numbers? What do you suggest from a good accountant or good bookkeeping team? Who should deliver your monthly P&L? Your bookkeeping team, your accountant, or both your bookkeeping and accounting team?
Your accounting team should scale alongside your business. It’s important for founders in their early stages of business to understand where every dollar is coming in and going out of their business. For some, that might mean delivering their own bookkeeping as a task that they’re responsible for a period of time until they understand what’s required. If their goal is to scale and they have the momentum to scale significantly quickly, that’s the time to bring in a bookkeeper.
A bookkeeper can be someone outsourced from a direct hire on your team and leveraging them as a bookkeeper or maybe a virtual assistant. This can be a bookkeeping solution or an outsourced partner. As you scale, you want to continue to look for specialists that understand the complexities of eCommerce. A gold standard in our industry is that prior to the 15th of the following month is when you should have your financial statements.
As the complexity grows, what often is missed is sellers need to be collaborative and involved in this process. At times, there’s a lot of data that are required to get financial reports pulled together. Also, it’s understanding how material those missing gaps are. At times, people get wrapped up in having their financials 100% accurate. Could 90% present you with enough information to make more timely decisions from where the 10% might be immaterial amounts that may not require you to hold up that reporting?
We set targets of 7 to 10 days for our bookkeeping team who are now part of our accounting team. Another big question that’s often asked is what accounting should you deploy for an eCommerce business? Should it be cash-based or accrual? What’s your take and why?
With our focus being centered on servicing brands in more of what we call operational finance and not tax filings, I’ll speak to that opinion. In order to have true visibility into the profits that we discussed earlier, it’s critical for brands to be in an accrual-based accounting, particularly for their inventory and cost of goods sold. You need that clear alignment between the actual order and volumes of sales and the actual cost for that product.
You cannot simply say, “Six months ago, I executed a deposit on a purchase order for tens of thousands of dollars. Six months later, the product sold.” Try to understand then the margins and make those decisions based on such a mismatch of information. When looking at it from a tax perspective, in the US in particular, that decision is best advised by your CPA because the tax law is consistently changing.
There may be other things to consider based on your business that a tax professional could provide clear advice against. For the purposes of managing the day-to-day operations and making those key decisions based on clarity and visibility across where cash is being outlaid and expenses are being incurred, accrual is 100% the path to follow.
You echo a lot of professional view on accrual. Thanks for the tip on cash with regard to tax. You also mentioned the fact that it is important to understand your gross and net profit margins on a platform-by-platform basis. Let’s say you’re a multichannel eCommerce operator, you’re selling in marketplaces like Walmart, and Amazon, and direct-to-consumer.
Is it too granular to do the same at a product level? The reason why I say it might be great to understand it at the product level is if you zoom into a marketplace like Amazon for instance and you use Helium 10 and you enter at least your COGS into Helium 10 effectively, it gives you a profitability-driven report.
You understand, “As much as these products are giving me or driving us huge gross revenue, they might be not as profitable as these other SKUs.” You might want to focus on other SKUs. You might then inform your PPC team to focus on those SKUs when they’re promoting it because it is more profitable, it leaves more net margin in your business. My question is, how granular does your P&L grow? Do you use other systems to track profitability? I’ll begin to know your thoughts.
Our reporting provides that clarity and visibility but I will echo that sentiment that it’s critical when either launching a new product or identifying which products to make those big investments in paid media to advertise against to be clear on what your unit economics look like across each of those products or even your SKUs. There’s a tool that we leverage with all of our accounting solutions that’s called A2X.
A2X creates a bridge between Amazon, Shopify, all your various sales channels, and your accounting system, either QuickBooks online or Xero. One of the great features that are less advertised with A2X is its ability for you to load your cost list into A2X so that it helps create that match of sales postings and expense posting to the cost of goods sold.
To the point you had made earlier, in understanding what tools, for many of our sellers, it’s simply a calculator we’ve created in a Google sheet that helps them identify the per unit cost across shipping, merchant processing fees such as PayPal or Stripe, the packaging cost associated with this particular product, the budget that might be available to them at certain gross margins or contribution margins after marketing to invest in paid media.
With that information, they at least can be familiar with what can be anticipated in launching this product at different price points or being in the position to know which products have an opportunity to be discounted to run on promotions because the margin can support it. There are tools out there that help automate and some of our customers that are across a larger SKU base do leverage those solutions. Our particular focus is helping them understand from that 10,000-foot view a little bit of a drill down to, “You may want to look on these particular channels to see if there are opportunities to make those products a bit more profitable.” As a provider, we don’t get down to the product or SKU level.
I resonate with that. With the tip you made with A2X, putting your COGS data there should provide a lot of insight. It’s similar to Helium 10, 8 to 10 is good. It integrates with Xero and other accounting software, which bridges between seller-central and your accounting system.
If I could add, it’s as important not just to understand what goes into the cost basis but also to understand from each sales channel how much the marketplace expenses, the FBA fees, and the seller charges that Amazon is taking out of that net deposit. One of the common mistakes that we see in more early-stage brands that come to us from a channel like Amazon is they’ve historically simply reconciled the deposit as their sales number.
They didn’t go into Seller Central and build either a pivot table or run the necessary reports for them to truly understand the growth sales against the marketplace expenses, refunds, and returns. They understand their net sales but they didn’t understand where there might be opportunities in having that visibility and clarity and looking across trends over time to pick out situations where perhaps Amazon may have overcharged them for storage fees or they miscategorized their product and had some of the measurements wrong.
There are tools that are coming about now that can help sellers identify these things. EBITDA and seller view are two that I’ve had conversations with that focus on helping sellers understand and provide some instruction around working with Amazon to get refunds where refunds are due. As important as our point earlier, without the visibility in having a landscape or a report placed in front of you to where you can identify these blips or months when these expenses are outside of typical trends, that question often isn’t asked.
Speaking of the charge of accounts in Xero, what does your revenue breakdown look like? What should a good revenue breakdown look like for a multi-channel retailer? Let’s say you are selling across Amazon Europe, you’re doing Amazon USA, and you have two Shopify sites, one for your local, wherever you are at your base, and another for the rest of the world. Maybe you have a distribution deal with 2 or 3 retailers. How do you break it down where it’s not too granular and then you maintain the right amount of revenue information or breakdown to guide you in making critical decisions?
Our structure is one where we certainly look across each marketplace and leverage the benefit of groupings to then drill down where the need arises. In your example where you have multiple instances of Amazon, there certainly will be a high-level grouping that allows you the visibility to see your entirety of Amazon sales. Within that, there’s also a drill down that helps you expand to see each of the geos. You’d be able to see your US Amazon gross sales, merchant fees, refunds, and returns discounts. In Canada, a similar structure, Shopify.
At a minimum and what’s important, because it does impact significantly your margins is to have visibility into your discounts, your shipping income, and your returns and refunds separate from your sales number. In understanding those amounts, you can begin to understand the percentage of discounts provided in a typical month. Each percentage of discount is a percentage you’re pulling away from your margin because your expenses tend not to change when you issue discounts. You’re simply saying, “I’m willing to accept a lower price on a bet that I can create a higher volume.”
To our discussion earlier, some products don’t lend themselves enough margin to put as significant a discount as what sellers believe will be attractive to command those higher volumes. You put yourself in a position in which you’re scaling losses. You’re simply selling a product and you’re losing more money. It’s critical to understand your discounts and also your refunds. It advises on the quality of the product or the experience that you’re putting forth. Looking toward paths to scale, you need to minimize your refunds and returns. You need to put forth a product that should be rewarded in repeated purchases and folks continuing to tell their friends, family, and everyone on their social medias about.
Back in season six, episode 52, I interviewed Garrett Akerson, the founder of Kindred Bravely, a kids’ apparel company. At the time, they were doing gross revenues and they were profitable at about $30 million a year per annum. The one thing that struck me was the fact that his organization was still spreadsheet-driven. They had their accounting systems and their marketing systems, quite sophisticated systems. Every week, every department drops its number in a central dashboard. I get this big picture aggregated over weeks and I see patterns and I can read those patterns and I make decisions off the back of those patterns.
Taking a pip out of accounting, what other metrics, from a financial lens, should you look at that are affecting finance and eventually, growth? On the flip side, what financial metrics can you report to your growth team, your marketing team, to give them more incentives or to give them alerts, “You are over-indexing here. This is what we are seeing.” How do you ensure that two-way comms from a data perspective to run a business collectively with your team?
There are two categories of metrics that I consider, there’s growth and there’s efficiency. When I consider growth metrics, I would suggest percentage growth month over month, week over week. If you’re looking to scale, you need to sell more next week than you did last week. Looking at a way to gauge and understand that path over time is critical. To our point, we also want to do that profitably. We wanted to ensure that more sales are driving higher profit, which is relating itself to more free cashflow available to us each and every month.
At the minimum, I would advise weekly covering your percentage growth and then also those key margins that we’ve discussed alongside the net-free cashflow. All of your bank accounts and your credit card spend, did cash increase or decrease through your business each week? The power of having someone tangibly key in a negative number, each and every week, you cannot continue to have negative free cash every week. You will put yourself out of business.
I would look to those growth metrics. On the efficiency side, efficiency in eCommerce comes from an ability to optimize inventory and your unit cost alongside marketing efficiency and excellence as well as general oversight of your operating expenses. In understanding those as the main categories, what we’ve often done is supported a simple percentage of each category against sales. What I believe is most important is to see trends over time, understand where your baseline sits, and then make those decisions to impact from that baseline to achieve your intended goals.
Looking at efficiency metrics, you need days-on-hand or weeks-on-hand inventory numbers. You can’t go out of stock and continue to support growth. You need some metric that understands the efficiency of your inventory turnover so that might be days or weeks of inventory on hand as a metric that’s shared each week. Things for marketing, of course, return on ad spend or MER is one that we’ve supported some of the collection. Many of these metrics are available through tools now with integrations directly into Slack. You’re able to pull from the best sources available to pull together closer to real-time this information and share them in a picture or a Google sheet that can help inform the entire team.
Financial products, financial tools, we’re speaking finance, and we’re speaking accounting. Various financial products have come over in recent times. There have been a boom and gloom in financial products, especially FinTech financial products. Which ones are you most excited about? What caveats should founders be aware of?
It’s like the next fad workout program or diet. There’s often a lot of marketing and some amazing imagery that’s put forth when these new tools and resources become available and the marketing sometimes overshines the effectiveness of these solutions. You proceed with caution. I recommend often that folks go to reliable resources to source reviews and firsthand experience within these products or solutions. There are amazing communities out there of seven-figure eCommerce brand operators that share their firsthand experience working with different software products, lending solutions, and accounting firms. Search out those reviews.
Also, understand the features and the value that these tools are providing to you within your business. You want to find these solutions that either help you save time or help you create insights that you couldn’t otherwise see in your other solutions. Also, pricing needs to be a consideration. Whenever you talk about the value conversation, you need to consider what cost is going out the door. You want to make sure you’re getting good value for your money and utilizing these solutions and seeing the results that they advertise within your business.
How do you determine the value based on interest rate from a revenue-based finance provider? Would you recommend going with a revenue-based finance provider to save fund advertising or even inventory? What are your roles for access to credit as a business, particularly businesses looking to scale without falling face down due to not being profitable?
There are a lot of considerations for folks. We’ve had experience supporting brands and their goals were to scale top line at nearly all costs. They wanted to see a trajectory in a quick path from 0 to $10 million but it was behind the expertise of individuals knowledgeable in the industry for the product set and capable of sourcing investors and venture capital after this period of growth. For this situation, it made sense for them to source out what some people call predatory at times, lending solutions, for that quick injection of capital without a lengthy lead time for them to receive it.
What was critical for us to advise is for them to truly understand the true cash impact of these repayments over time. There are amazing resources available and some exciting conversations that have occurred through folks’ learnings in the space where you can now google for APR calculators that can help advise you on what some of these merchant lenders’ true cost of lending looks like. You can help project out the true output or repayment for this particular loan is going to look like this over time. It may be that you’re in a position based on how profitable your products are and how much margin there is capable of providing for the APR that is to be repaid with these loans can manage.
I can’t advise in every situation with a blanket statement because they are amazing resources for folks that cannot first leverage their local credit union, traditional banking, friends, family, or a rich uncle to source the working capital needed that could help keep the trajectory of sales that keeps people interested in the brand and that keeps people repeatedly buying. If it’s your last resource to try to save a brand that’s been failing, I would truly advise doing diligent research into what the repayment and cashflow needed to settle these loans look like. As advertised, what might be a 10% or 15% loan looks like something like 80% APR at the end of the day.
You’re right. Comb through that fine print. On that note, we conclude this conversation. Before I let you go, I have a rapid-fire question segment of the show where I ask you about six questions in a single sentence. If you could answer each of them with a single sentence, it’d be okay.
That’s often tough for me.
What advice would you give yourself five years ago?
Go for it.
Who’s been your most meaningful business contact in the last five years?
I learned a tremendous amount from Taylor Holiday at Common Thread Collective about diving in the excitement around eCommerce finances.
Are you a morning person?
I’m an extremely morning person.
What does your morning routine look like?
Wake up approximately 45 minutes before my children, do a bit of devotional Bible study, and step into some personal reading, a typical professional or personal development book with my hot morning coffee. After 45 minutes, getting the kids up to school, myself to the gym, shower, breakfast, and into the work routine.
What book are you currently reading or listening to?
I’m rereading Man’s Search For Meaning, Victor Frankl.
Finally, what’s been your best mistake today? By that, I mean a setback that’s given you the biggest feedback.
Thinking I could build a business by myself. In my early days, trying to handle all areas of business proved to be a learning that was critical for me at that time. Also, to understand the importance of leveraging experts and others’ strengths to help support a greater goal, which was to build a larger business than I could do on my own.
Wayne, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the 2X eCommerce Podcast Show. For those who want to find out more about what you do, head over to BeanNinjas.com. They’re eCommerce accountants, they support platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Amazon FBA omnichannel. From your website, you have a plethora of services, bookkeeping, accounting tax, virtual CFO, and eCommerce accounting setup. Go check them out. Are you active on any social media platforms yourself?
Bean Ninjas is active across Twitter. I’m active on LinkedIn. I’m hoping to build a bit more of a Twitter following. You’ll find either one of those platforms.
Thank you again, Wayne, for coming to the 2X eCommerce podcast.
Thank you so much. Grateful to have been here.