Ken Kaufman has written a book that every small-business owner and entrepreneur should read — at least once, if not several times.
Impact Your Business: An Allegory of an Entrepreneur’s Journey to Clarity, Cash, Profit, Family and Success is a mouthful of a title. Luckily, the book is easy to read.
Impact Your Business is the story of Steve Loveland. He is the owner of Bolty Solutions, a 40-employee technology company. When we start reading, Steve is in the midst of a “mess” (his word, not mine). The company is past due on a bank loan; the IRS says he owes money; and for the first time ever, payday has arrived without enough cash to make payroll.
Then there’s Steve’s emotional and mental state. No, he’s not going crazy or having a breakdown. But you get to read his thoughts as the main character. Any business owner who’s ever faced hard times will instantly recognize his state of mind. He’s tired. He’s overwhelmed. He’s ready to give up. He’s voiced to himself his worst business fear — that his company might have to go out of business.
On top of everything else, his wife and family are fed up with his late hours. He’s missed commitments repeatedly. He feels he is failing them. This compounds his stress and worry. He is deeply distraught over his family situation, but is so caught up in his business problems he doesn’t know how to get back on track. The bigger his business problems, the more distracted and distant he becomes. He makes the mistake of thinking that he first has to solve his business problems before addressing his family issues. (Wrong!)
Enter Jennifer Silverstone, an iPad-wielding consultant. The book relies on the plot device of a trusted advisor who helps Steve find his way out of his mess. Steve is still reeling from the cold slap of hearing there isn’t enough cash to make payroll due that day when Jennifer arrives. Jennifer had been referred by a friend of Steve’s.
In the midst of despair, Steve is unsure how Jennifer can help. But he opens up and bares his problems. In the space of a few hours, she helps him find a way out of the immediate payroll problem, through identifying how to delay payment of some vendor invoices that don’t require immediate payment.
And with that simple move Steve begins the journey of understanding — truly understanding — his business. With Jennifer’s help he starts to re-work his business from the inside out. Jennifer Silverstone in effect becomes his chief financial officer. She helps Steve identify the underlying causes of Bolty’s cash flow problems. More importantly, she helps Steve identify the data and reports he needs to make the transformational decisions to improve his business’s short term and long term health. She gives him a framework to better lead his business going forward.
Along the way, Steve gets helpful advice and support from a long-time friend, Jeff. Jeff is there with the right words to encourage Steve to get his family relationships back on track. Then there are the employees who have made Bolty what it is, along with Steve – they make appearances, too.
I’m a huge fan of business allegories because you learn in a format that makes the lessons memorable. It’s far easier to remember people and situations, than reading dry financial words. And the novel-like format puts lessons into the context of the type of decisions each of us face daily — so it is much easier to apply the information to your own business.
Like two of my other favorite business allegories, John Warrillow’s Built to Sell and Larry Janesky’s The Highest Calling, you’ll find nothing but practical advice. All 3 books were written by experienced successful businesspeople who’ve “been there done that.” Ken Kaufman (@_KenKaufman on Twitter) used to be a CFO who founded CFO Wise, a firm of outsourced chief financial officers.
So it’s no coincidence that the hero in this book is a CFO. I’ve found in real life that many CFOs are just that to the businesses they serve — heroes who can help save struggling businesses and who help healthy businesses achieve their full potential. The book makes you feel like you are having a talk with your own CFO. You’ll learn dozens of practical concepts, techniques, metrics and reports for running your own business. Sprinkled throughout the book are “Insights” such as #37:
“The most successful entrepreneurs can fit all of the key business metrics they need to run their businesses onto one page.”
You learn that the word “Impact” in the book’s title is really an acronym for the criteria for a financial and reporting infrastructure to manage your business: insightful, meaningful, precise, accessible, comparative and timely. You’ll have to read the book to discover what those criteria mean and how to implement them in your business. 🙂
I’ve known Ken from his involvement online in social media, especially from his terrific business articles that he’s shared on my social media site, BizSugar. So I was honored to get a chance to read this book before publication and give him a testimonial blurb for it, and write this longer review here. I’ve read the book now twice — and found it well worth my time. If you want your business to achieve its potential, I recommend you learn from Ken Kaufman in Impact Your Business.