The Hardest Lesson I’ve Had to Learn as a Business Owner

In this episode of Training Tuesday, Annette shares her insights on the hardest lesson she had to learn as a small business owner. She discusses her experiences with hiring and firing, time management, and the importance of cash management in a business.

Annette explains that while she struggled with hiring and firing, she learned that ultimately, the buck stops with the business owner. She emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for your business in order to achieve success.

She also stresses the importance of time management, setting boundaries, and analyzing how your time is spent in order to be more efficient and effective in your business.

However, Annette's biggest lesson came from understanding the importance of cash management. She discusses how for years, she thought that revenue growth would solve her business's financial problems. But it wasn't until she read the book "Profit First" and implemented its strategies that things changed for her. Annette realized that focusing on profitability and cash management was key to getting more money home from her business.

Annette concludes by encouraging her audience to read "Profit First" and to focus on cash management regularly in their businesses. She also announces that next week's topic will be on pricing and the cost of living in a crisis.

Overall, Annette's insights provide valuable lessons for small business owners on the importance of taking responsibility for their businesses, time management, and cash management.


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Hello, hello. Hello everyone. I hope you are well today. Thank you for joining me for training Tuesday. Of course Tuesdays at 11am. UK time, we are alive across multiple platforms today. So please do bear with me if you see me looking a little bit sideways or a little bit squinty. I am just trying to cover up everything that we are doing today.

This is Training Tuesday, like I said every Tuesday at 11am where I come and do a teacher topic basically share with you some insights and give you some tips for your business. So do give me a hello in the comments. If you are here. Let me know that you are watching let me know that you are tuning in it is always really helpful to see people and say hello in the comments.

If you're tuning in on the replay as well give me a hashtag replay as well so that I know that you have seen this and are tuning in for those of you that are new to me, who have stumbled across this video, my name is Annette Ferguson. I am CEO of a Latin co uk based accounting firm. 

I'm a chartered accountant certified profit first professional and small business growth strategist. And ultimately I help business owners take home more money from their business for them and their families to enjoy no matter the size of business, whether you have a fledgling startup business or whether you have multimillion pound revenues.

In many cases, business owners are not taking home what they want from their business. And that is where we come in. So today, my topic for training Tuesday is the hardest lesson I had to learn as a small business owner, I have been running my business since 2009. And there have been some bumpy roads that I have traveled with my business. There have been some great highs, but also some low lows in all honesty.

When I first started my business for probably probably the first close to 10 years, I was terrible at hiring and firing, I was terrible at getting the right people in to work with my business to support my business, I was terrible at management and leadership. And that is something that I've had to learn very much along the way, I was very, very bad at it. And you know, part of the reason may very well have been that I didn't have any experience in that area at all.

When I came into running my business, I had been in corporate and whatnot. But I have not actually managed people. I've not hired people and not fired people. And I didn't know how to do any of that from what I learned from my previous experience. And I was terrible at it. So that has been a very long learning journey for me, where I actually went into masterminds and courses and all those kinds of things, to learn leadership and to learn how to onboard staff and train people and all those good things.

But that is in fact, not the hardest lesson I had to learn but but it is a major one because in all honesty, it cost me a lot of money, hiring the wrong person who costs you a lot of time and energy and money you put all your faith into into that person, and then things go wrong. And you know, ultimately, as business owners, everything that happens in our business is our fault.

And that is the main kind of, I suppose one of the main themes of lessons that I've learned in my business is that ultimately, the buck stops with us as small business owners, it doesn't matter if it's something that's done by someone in our team and employee or a contractor because ultimately, we hired those people.

Therefore the buck always stops with us as a small business owner, I think once you can learn that and appreciate that and understand that it's really helpful in the growth of your business. Because ultimately, if we don't take responsibility for our business, then it makes it really hard to grow and scale our business in the way that we want and achieve the success that we want in our business. So that is one big thing that I have had to learn over the last, how many years 1313 1414 years. Running a business will be 14 years.

The Hardest Lesson I’ve Had to Learn as a Business Owner

I started in September, actually. So it's by 13 and a half as we're speaking right now. That is a big one is is employee management, hiring and firing employees that whole kind of eat our piece of our business because of course, as a small business owner, we don't have an HR department to run all this stuff. It's all up to us. And so that can be a challenge. Not however, the hardest lesson that I learned as a small business owner, but a pretty major one, none the less.

I think another big thing that can be really challenging as a business owner is understanding whether you're spending your time effectively in your business. Because we only have so many hours in the day to work on our business. And many of us want to finish for the evening and spend time with our families or our children.

And if you're anything like me, you don't want to work weekends, because you again want to spend that with your children, with your family, or doing the things that you like to do to relax and enjoy yourself. And so getting that balance of how you spend your time making sure that you spend it efficiently and effectively.

And once you've clocked off, actually clocking off, can be really difficult not getting pulled back into work things not getting sidetracked by the draw of your phone and your emails and all those things when you've decided to put those boundaries into place actually upholding those boundaries in your business.

So again, this can be a lesson that can be really hard for people is actually installing boundaries in their business, when it comes to their time when their working hours are when they've decided to stop and making sure that the time that they are spending in their business is being used effectively.

Really the only way you can do that is making sure that you log what you're doing. And then you analyze that data. And that can be something that people are very resistant to do. Because let's face it, it is tedious, and it is boring. And it is not sexy and cool at all. But it does give us some great valuable insight into how our business is performing and how we are performing as individuals as well.

And working how our time should be spent in the future to maximize the efficiency of our own time. But for those of you that have been around the block with me a few times and have heard a lot of my content, you might start to be guessing at what the hardest lesson I had to learn as a small business owner isn't this.

For those of you that don't know me that well might be surprising to you because like I said, I am a chartered accountant, I am a certified profit first professional and a small business growth strategist. But the hardest lesson I had to learn in my business was actually around money in my business. It was around the cash in my business, and the cash management of my business.

That is by far and away. The hardest lesson and and in all honesty, the most stressful lesson that I learned in my business was how to actually properly manage cash in my business, so that I was not robbing Peter to pay Paul so that I wasn't getting into debt. And so that I was making sure that money was flowing fully in my business so that I could run my business and concentrate on running my business.

So for those of you that don't know my story, I eight years ago now, just over eight years ago, I had given birth to my little boy. And he slept terribly, awful, horrendous sleeper. And I spent many a night in his room in his chair holding him so that he could sleep sitting on my rocking chair. And I was would sit and I would rock him and he would sleep. And that's pretty much the only way he was sleep. But of course, as many of you will know, you can't sleep when you're holding a baby, that's not safe thing to do.

So I would be awake holding my baby rocking. And what I would typically often do is I would read books on my Kindle, I had a red light, which meant it didn't disturb your sleep pattern. It meant I could read by it. And I would read books on my Kindle. And one night I stumbled across a book called profit first. This is it here. And this book.

This book gave me a wake up call. Because up until this point, I had been battling money in my business. I had always thought that the next client I got would make things easier for my business financially. I kept saying to you know, my husband and anyone who would listen, the next client, the next client, the next claim, that's when we'll get money home from my business.

That's when we will get cash for us from my business. And it wasn't every time it wasn't. And it wasn't until I read and implemented this book during those, read it during those night feeds and implemented it subsequently that things actually changed. So for years and years, I was battling with the I just need some more revenue. I just need some more people to come in and then the money will be there. And that is not the case. That is the lesson that I learned and I battled with it for years and years and years in my business.

It was really, really difficult. It was really really stressful. And it is and it is the lesson that has as fundamentally changed my life once I learned it, and got it straight in my business. And so, you know, I highly, highly recommend, if you have not read this book, please, please, please do read this book. Like I said, it is fundamentally a game changer. If you want a PDF copy of the book, you can head to, and you can download a PDF copy of that the core chapters of that book completely free of charge. 

So I highly recommend that you read that because that is when things changed in my business, that is when I learned the lesson that it is not revenue growth that needs chased all the time, it is focused on profitability and cash management, that actually means that you get more money home for you and your family to enjoy. That is step one, in this process of getting more money home from your business.

Step one is a robust cash management strategy. 

If you don't have a cash management strategy in your business, then cash is ruling you. And typically what happens is it comes in and it disappears out. So making sure that you really are on top of cash management. I still have to focus on cash management every single week in my business, this is not something that once you learn it, it just magically, then is no longer a focus. 

Like anything that's important in your business, you need to have regular reviews and focus on it. And cash management is absolutely no different to any other really important area of our business. And therefore making sure that you have time every week to manage that cache to review that cache to ensure that your collections are coming in, that people are not getting, you know, getting things for free from you to make sure that the cash is coming into your business when it needs to be is really important, but also the focus on where it's going, making sure that you're not spending money on stuff that you no longer need use or want in your business, and making sure that you're really tight on the cash outgoings as well as good on the collections for the cash coming in.

So that without a doubt is the hardest lesson that I ever learned in my business was the focus on cash management was that if you don't focus on it, it will not fix itself. And you need to actually take active steps in order to ensure that cash is always always managed in your business. 

It's not something that just happens by accident as you grow your business. Because if you scale your business, if you start scaling, and you don't have this stuff sorted, all you do is create a bigger problem. It doesn't fix the problem, it just creates more of an issue. And it doesn't fix itself.

Final thoughts

So that's what I wanted to share with you today for training Tuesday. As I said, if you have not read this book before I got a copy of this book, please, please, please, please make that one of the things that you do before this week is out. And like I mentioned, you can go to that URL if you wish to get the core chapters and PDF straight to your inbox.

Of course, you can also purchase it in all good book shops as well. Thank you for tuning in step one. I hope that this session has been useful for you. And I will speak to you very soon. Next week, we will be back again next week. Same time, same place. Let me just check my topic for next week.

My topic for next week is pricing and the cost of living a crisis. So do make sure you set a time in your diary in your schedule 11am Tuesdays set it is a recurring appointment and then you will be able to hop in and get all the goodness. Thanks again for tuning in. Thank you for joining me. I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful rest of your day. And I'll speak to you soon. Take care everyone

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About the Author

Owner of Annette & Co. - Chartered Accountants & Certified Profit First Professionals. Helping online service-based entrepreneurs find clarity in their numbers, increase wealth and have more money in their pockets.

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