I Trusted An 'Expert' With My Business Finances And It Almost Ruined Me 💸



Salena Knight

I remember it like it was yesterday (how can I ever forget). I was drowning in debt, exhausted from pouring everything I had into my struggling business. How did it all go so wrong?

Back when I first started out, I was so naive about finances.
Despite growing up poor, watching every penny come into and leave my bank account, that all went out the window when I opened my first store.
Even with a business degree, accounting was a total mystery to me (I failed accounting – twice!).

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So in those first years of business, I was not only looking for a coach and mentor, but someone who could help me focus on the money side of things.
The truth is, that accountant / business coach didn’t help me make more money or become more profitable.

I felt utterly betrayed. How could this have happened?
I blamed my accountant /business coach.
I blamed my bookkeeper
I blamed the economy (after all it was a Global Financial Crisis)
I blamed the media, and the government

I’d been paying for so called expert advice, so why did no one tell me there were problems that needed to be sorted or help me devise a plan to make sure that we could weather the storm???

This episode is a must for any business owner who has wondered if they can really trust the ‘experts’ they hire. Whether it’s the marketing agency you felt ripped you off, or the accountant that never told you you were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy…

Salena Knight 0:02
Hey there, and welcome to the bringing business to retail podcast. If you're looking to get more sales, more customers, master your marketing, and ultimately take control of your retail or E commerce business, then you're in the right place. I'm Celina Knight, a retail growth strategist and multi award winning store owner whose superpower is uncovering exactly what your business requires. To move to the next level, I'll provide you with the strategies, the tools, and the insight you need to scale your store. All you need to do is take action, ready to get started?

Salena Knight 0:51
Hey there, and welcome to today's episode of The bringing business to retail podcast. Now, as we grow our business, we put our faith into other people into experts to help us hit the goals that we want to achieve. But what happens when you've put all that faith and quite often time and money into one of those experts, and you don't get the result that you were looking for, in fact, you could end up going bankrupt because of them? Well, I know when I first started out in business, I found out pretty quickly that even though I had a business degree that I had spent four years on what I'd learned didn't translate into the real world of running your own business. Now, I'll be honest, law 101, which is as far as I got in law did give me a little bit of context. And I would say it probably gave me enough knowledge to be dangerous. And some of the marketing modules that I did, were great, in theory, because they were in theory, but things like strategic change management that was so far out of my league and what I was experiencing on a day to day basis, that at the end of that degree, I did feel like the entire thing had been a waste of time. But I did it because my employer at the time, offered to pay for it. And looking back, God knows why they did because I worked for a local council. And at the time, how they ran things was so far removed from wanting what running a business actually looks like that. I don't know why they ever agreed to let me do this degree. But the thing is, education is always good. And free education quite often is better, especially when you are young. And something like a degree cost a lot of money. And looking back, I did learn things. You know, we think that at the time that this was all just a waste of time, but I did learn things. But I also struggled. I mean, I struggled a lot because I wasn't in the business realm. While I was studying this degree, I was managing a team of arborists and I was a tree preservation officer. So none of what I was learning was happening in my day to day life. And as a result, I failed accounting twice, not once, but twice. Because at the time, it just didn't make sense to me that hilariously on a side note, I actually went on to be on the board of directors for a credit union because I understand money. What I didn't understand at the time was double journal book, double general bookkeeping, that's what it's called. And even to this day, I still don't get it. But fast forward to owning a business. And my growing up poor meant that financial stability was a top priority for me. So once I realized that accounting was money, like money coming into my bank account money coming into my cash register money going out of my bank account, then all of a sudden, it made sense. It was like an aha moment. It's like this is just money. That if you're new around here, let me just give you like a 92nd backstory about why I am so passionate about helping people achieve financial stability. Because when I was 14, my mother kicked me out of home. And when I say that, most people immediately think that I was some rowdy teenager who was drinking and smoking pot and getting into fights. However, those things I'm boring, okay, guys, those things are so far removed from who I am now and 14 year old Sal because I was the kid who sat in my room and read books. I was the kid that listen to music on my Walkman because I didn't want to upset any already with the toys, like I was a really good kid. And I know this will surprise you. But I was very, very shy. I was fun. And I love talking to people I knew, but I never put myself out there. So as a result, I was a homebody. And I spent a lot of time in my room reading, listening to music. And when I wasn't doing that, I was looking after my younger brother and sister. Because most night, my mom worked at a restaurant. And so, one night, I got into a fight with my older brother over of all things, a music magazine. And I remember coming home from school, this is the condensed version. I remember coming home from school the next day, getting off the bus, walking in the door, and seeing my mother in the kitchen with a garbage bag by her side. Now, of course, you don't know what at the time. But what she said next, was going to be one of those moments that changed my life forever. Because I remember, she looked up from cutting vegetables, and she said, You need to go, I can't have you here stirring up trouble. We can't afford to get kicked out of this house. Because of all the noise and the fighting. Now, I was 14 years old. You know, I didn't start the fight. I was pretty indignant about the whole thing. At the time, my dad was living in his car because they had separated quite some time ago. And he was such a loving or it's such a loving and giving person that is actually living out of his car, so he could give us all of the money that he made to survive. Other than that, I had my grandmother who was dealing with her own conceived during menopause teenager, my older brother and my aunt actually only a couple of weeks different in terms of birthdays. And we didn't have any other family. So where was I supposed to go? I mean, of course, at the time, I was like, maybe she doesn't really mean it. But no, also was garbage bag with the sum of all my 14 year old worldly possessions, she'd already packed them up. And she called my dad to come and get me. Now I was his problem now. Now, you might think that my mother was a monster. And at the time, even though it was extremely devastating, no teenager wants to think that they're unloved or that the unwanted. Because being abandoned by a parent is probably one of those, I can tell you, it is one of those things that changes your whole entire being. But of course, in hindsight, it was one of the most pivotal, pivotal moments of my entire life. I ended up moving to another state to live with my elderly grandparents. And I had $78 a week, I still remember to this day, $78 a week in government payments to live off. That was it $30 of that had to go to my board for my grandparents, because they were they were on welfare, they didn't have money to support me. So that meant I had $48 a week to buy my personal items. Were school supplies, I had to pay my school fees, I think I was paying them off at like two or $5 a week. And by my uniforms, I had to buy clothing. And then of course, anything extra that teenagers like to do, like going to the movies. And when you combine all of that with the fact that we grew up hovering between poor, and very, very lower middle class we had times when we were definitely below the poverty line. And then sometimes when my parents were working and doing things, well, we would we never went on holidays or anything like that. But we didn't starve. And so when you put all that wrap it up with a bow, you can see that financial security pretty much fills every fiber of my vein. So in those first years of business, I knew that I needed help, because this degree that I had wasn't really helping me. And I wasn't just looking for a coach, I was looking for a mentor who could help me focus on the money side of things. And the truth is I found someone and that accountant slash business coach, they were actually an accountant who branched out into business coaching, didn't help me make any more money, and didn't help me become more profitable. So why am I bringing this up? Well, because I saw a post in a business facebook group two days ago, three days ago. And as I read it, my heart broke because it became one of those times when all of the memories just flooded back to me. It just came to the surface that I had been in a very similar situation. And so the post went something like this. After 10 years of having a successful business, the awful retail climate and the fall also economy has brought the business crashing down. And I'm feeling extremely stressed and exhausted from it all. I've now realized that I've had a terrible bookkeeper for three years and the people that I paid to support and guide me through all of this process and grow my business, have let me down? Not at any point, did anyone tell me that there was a problem. As a result, I'm in a lot of debt, I've reduced all my costs as much as I can, including now getting rid of all my staff. So what do I do, even if I make the hard decision to close the business, there is still all of this debt that needs to be cleared. And even if we make more sales, I don't know if we are ever going to get back on top. Now, some of you

Salena Knight 10:51
might feel like you could have written this post yourself, or you maybe have seen posts like this, and you think I don't want to go there. And just like this person, I have to be honest with you, my team, probably talk to 20 odd people a day. And we hear comments like this every single day. So many too many retail and e commerce Store owners who ended up putting their trust in an expert, and didn't get the result they were looking for. And in this case, it's quite often things like a bookkeeper or an accountant or a trusted advisor, like a marketing agency. We're supposed to be looking out for them and acting in their best interests, when often, that just doesn't happen. Now, I will say here, one of the things that my team are really good at is kind of digging out why that's happened. And there will always be the times when experts and advisors fail you. But then there are these other times where you have to look back and say, Did I actually contract that person to give me these services? So did you actually have a contract for them to give you expert advice, but then to potentially devise a strategy for them to diagnose problems and alert them to you? Or did you just contract them to run your ads? Do your bookkeeping reconcile your book work. And that's really important, because sometimes when you go into a business relationship like this, you think you're getting one thing. But actually, what you've signed up to, is something completely different. So it's really important to know the difference between those different sort of circumstances, when you sign a contract with an expert or a company. Now, I hope you never have to be in the position that this person was in because I know I can totally empathize with them, have been where they are. And at the time, I remember blaming my accountant, I blamed the business accountant slash business coach, on top of blaming my bookkeeper who also worked for that company, I blamed the economy, because this was 2007 2008 2009, the global financial crisis, I blamed the media, because they were fear mongering everyone. And of course, I had to blame the government, because it's always the government's fault. But who I didn't blame when I was going through all of this was made. Because after all, I had been paying this expert for advice. So Why did no one tell me that there were problems that needed to be sorted out? Or why didn't someone help me devise a plan to make sure that we could weather the storm? Now I'm much older, hopefully a little bit wiser. I have run several businesses and I have scaled close to 100 more. And in hindsight, I can truthfully say that the only person to blame in that situation Now sure, there may have been mitigating factors like the economy and the government and the media. But at the end of the day, it was my money. And you would think, with my history of growing up poor and having to watch every single penny that went into and out of my bank account that I would do the same for my business. But even though I'm ashamed to say it, I believe that paying an expert to look after my business finances meant that they had my back. And also, like I've done the same thing when it comes to marketing. I I remember spending $1,200, which I couldn't afford at the time for a TV ad, now not a TV ad that went out to the whole country. No, no, no. This was naive cell. It was a TV ad on a TV at the local golf club, because I figured the kinds of people who hung out at the golf golf course, at the golf club were my type of people, I figured that they were either rich grandparents, who were one of my key target markets, or they were affluent people who were happy to spend money on eco products. I later found out that the TV that the ad was running on, and I found out totally by accident, was very rarely switched on. And so as a result, I got nothing from my $1,200 Silly thing was I couldn't even track whether I was getting any results, even if it had been playing. Again, I trusted that the marketing agency who sold me that package had my back, they were experts, they knew the demographics, they bamboozled me with numbers and case studies and all of these things. But at the end of the day, it's my money, and I'm responsible for it. So you're probably thinking, what's my advice to someone in, in that situation. And whenever we talk about money, you know, I always have to give you a disclaimer, which is, I am not a financial adviser, I am not qualified to give you financial advice, the things I tell you are the things that I have worked through my experience through my pitfalls for from all of my mistakes, and all the things that have worked. So before you make any financial decisions on anything that I mentioned on here on the podcast, please talk to your actual financial advisor that you are paying, and you are in a contract to give you financial advice for that's one of the things we've learned today, right. So here's my advice, if you ever find yourself in a situation like that, and it comes from my experience of being in a situation exactly like that. First up, it's going to feel very emotional, because it is a very emotional time. And it is going to be very easy to do what I did, which was to lay the blame anywhere and everywhere. But you have to look at times like this. And you will know if you've been through, you know, a downpour, if you've been through one of those rock bottom moments, you realize that they're actually opportunities there. It doesn't seem like it at the time. But in hindsight, there are opportunities for us to change the way we think change the way we act, change processes, change, all the things change our lives. And so you have to look at this as an opportunity to take a good hard look, is that an Australian saying to take a good hard look at your business? And see whether in all honesty, in your heart of hearts, is this a truly viable business? Or is it something that you started or that you do to fill your cup? Now, the truth is not everyone is born to be a business owner, you and I both know, it can completely suck at times. And you and I both know that it can drain the life out of you. But it can also be so extremely rewarding. So when you find yourself at a crossroads like this, it can be the opportunity that your business needs. So is your business viable? Looking in this person's case? Once all the debt has been paid off? Can the business still make money? Yes, you made a mistake? Yes, you made some bad financial decisions. If we took those off the table, if those weren't in the balance sheet, would this business be viable? Or conversely? Is this business just an ego thing where you don't want to lose the time and the money and the energy that you've put in to get it this far? You have to be truthful. If you're doing this and you don't have to be in a position where you might be going bankrupt for this to happen. I would say you should be doing things like this quite often on a regular basis. Like when you're looking at your business. Is it viable? Is it something that can scale is it because it can't scale? Then it's just a job? But you have to be truthful with yourself and you have to look at the numbers. Now, what you also have to take into account during all of this is looking at the actions that you took to get right here, right now. And I'm going to say the first thing that comes to my mind is, were you actively marketing the business? Because quite often, when when you see posts in Facebook groups, oh, I'm not getting any sales, or all of a sudden our revenues down my first question is, what are you doing to get people in the door? What are you doing to get people to your website? What are you doing to get people to spend their money? And if the answer is nothing, then there's your answer. You need to constantly be marketing your business. And that doesn't mean just posting on social media. So what are you marketing your business? Actively? Not just on social media?

Salena Knight 20:49
Were you tracking your numbers? Were you making? Or are you making the right adjustments to the areas of your business that need help? So for example, if you're not marketing your business, and you're not making any revenue, have you made the decision to take the money and put it into your marketing budget? And do some marketing and track the results? Or, and I'm not implying in any way, shape or form that the person who posted this question did this? I don't know. It was an anonymous post. I don't know this person. I don't know anything about their business, other than what I just read out to you. But did you just show up every day, and hope that everything was going to be okay? Now, if you've been around for a while, we call this the hamster wheel of hope, right? Like you just cross your fingers and hope that people are going to walk in the door that people are going to order that there's going to be enough money in the bank. And that's not running a business. So where are you running the business? Or was the business running you? Remember we're looking at if you find yourself in a dark situation, these are the things that you need to be honest with yourself about. And if you are paying experts, whether it is a financial advisor or an accountant or a bookkeeper or a marketing agency or a business coach, are you holding them accountable? In this case, were you revising the documents that they sent this is the in this person who says that their financial advisors never told them that there was a problem. Now, maybe they did think that they told that there was a problem when they sent their reports. And it was pretty clear that at the end of the day, there was no money or their cash flow forecast was out. So were you doing your job as the CEO? Were you asking questions? Were you having meetings to discover, discuss cashflow, and inventory forecasting? Was the expert actually contracted remember to provide this service? Or were they just doing what they thought was their job, which was reconciling their data and watching their tax and sending me the reports? It doesn't matter where the problem lies. The question you need to be asking yourself is why did this occur? And no one wants to feel dumb. So if you are ever talking to an expert in air quotes, you need to be asking questions. And you need to be financially literate. If you don't know what something means, if you don't understand what balance sheets look like, and profit and losses and what all the numbers mean, ask, ask to have it explained to you because you're not going to learn any other way. And these people are experts, so they should be able to explain it to each for you. In a way that makes sense. Okay, so let's say we've done all of that, and the business is viable. But right now, the biggest problem is this debt cloud that is currently hanging over the business. So the good news is, there are ways that you can consolidate debt, you could enter into payment plans. I know here in Australia, and also in the US, I'm not sure what it's called in the US. But here in Australia, we have the small business debt restructuring program, which is where like a third party goes in and negotiate with all your creditors from the tax department, to the people who supply your products to maybe your logistics person, they consolidate that debt, they negotiate with your creditors to reduce your overall debt. And you might go from a million dollars down to $200,000. And all of a sudden, that is achievable and that is manageable. So there are things you can do if you have the knowledge and the right people around you to give you this information to get you through situations. So you can create a repayment plans and small small business debt restructuring. And even though A outcomes like that are not necessarily ideal. The simple fact is, we all make mistakes, we make mistakes in life, and we make mistakes in business. And one, or even a series of poor financial decisions shouldn't bankrupt your business. If we're doing the things I just talked about, if we're looking at the numbers, if we're honest with ourselves if we're analyzing the business. So, of course, what can happen when you take this in depth book of your business, is that you decide that either the business isn't viable, or perhaps you just don't want to do it anymore. Like I said, running a business is really hard work, in which case, the business will need to be wound up or wait for it, you could potentially sell your business. And you're probably thinking, WTF now, what are you crazy? How could I sell my business that has all of these debts? Well, sometimes people are looking for debt that they can use to reduce their balance sheet, businesses run very differently. Or maybe you have assets that they want, maybe you have a bricks and mortar store that they want the location to, or you have access to suppliers that they haven't been able to get, because their exclusivity arrangements, there are a whole bunch of assets in your business that you can sell, even if your business has debt. Now, the good news is, the vast majority of businesses can not only be saved, if you find yourself in a pickle, let's just call it a big ol. But they can be thriving, profitable assets, that serve their customers, and create financial security for the owners and the employees. Because I know that in most cases, businesses fail because of two things. Number one, they run out of money. Or number two, the founder, who is the driving force, behind all of the business simply runs out of energy. And the main reason for that is that we simply aren't taught this stuff, we certainly aren't taught how to run a business in school. I have a business degree. And I can tell you 100%, that what I learned in that degree, maybe 2%, of what I learned, I actually needed to run a successful business. And my degree was a Bachelor of Business in Business Administration, right? Managing the business. And yet, I can say like 2%, of what I learned, could actually be used in the real world. The rest of what I've learned, comes from Yes, the school of hard knocks, but also a lot of time and money invested to learn the things that I needed to learn, I would, I would work out that I had a knowledge deficit, and I would go and learn those things. Plus, you got to put experience in there. I've got nearly two decades of experience in this industry. And in that time, I have had so many stuff ups, I have had so many setbacks, I have had so many mistakes that cost me my business growth, you can look back and see these things, right. And 10s, if you're if I'm honest, probably hundreds of 1000s of dollars in direct financial growth. And of course, just the growth, I meant losses. I'm so busy focusing on growth right now that what I meant to say was hundreds of 1000s of dollars in direct financial losses. So I can attribute the things that I did to not making money. And of course, there's the heartache, the emotional stress that you go through the pressure that you put on yourself and your family and your friends while you're going through all of this. All of that is because of the mistakes that I've made, as I've gone through the last two decades of downloading buildings, scaling retail and E commerce businesses. And so what I want to do is to invite you to my five day free challenge. I've called it how to double your sales in 90 days. Now over these five days, you'll be rolling up your sleeves and taking action because that's the kind of person that I am. You'll be taking action to change the trajectory of your business. Now during these sessions together, we'll be helping you get clarity around what it is you actually want from your business and who You need to be to be a seven figure or multi seven figure business owner because I do not subscribe to that hustle culture. So who do you need to be if you're not going to be that person? When I recently when you'll know this, if you listen to the podcast, I recently had to go to the UK for kind of an emergency family issue. And we did that

Salena Knight 30:26
at the drop of a hat. We made the decision on the Monday, and we were gone by the following week. And I am so proud that I could take that time out of my business to spend with our extended family at a time when they needed us without my business falling into a heap. So I'm teaching you the strategies to double your sales in 90 days. Yes, I know, it sounds big, it sounds bold. That's one of my core values. And if you are ready to come along and learn how to do it, I'll be showing you how to create a predictable and repeatable plan to increase your revenue. Now, this is the kind of stuff that will change your life, we're going to go through my breakthrough concept called the Freedom metric, I made that up myself, and how to calculate yours in three minutes or less. I'm going to walk you through how people like Donna and Amber and ash were able to skyrocket their revenue by over 200%. And the funny thing is, it is way easier than you think. And you and I both know that to create change, you have to create change. So this is not going to be a walk in the park, you are going to have to do the work. It will probably be confrontational. I'm gonna say it'll be emotional. And I can safely say it will be the smack in the face and the kick up the butt that you probably need right now to get unstuck in your business. But if all this did was give you some clarity around what you want from your business, or reignited that spark that you've probably been missing, when that be worth a couple of hours over a busy week. Or if all this did was give you some knowledge that you needed if you have a knowledge deficit in certain areas of your business. If all this did was give you the knowledge that you needed to understand how money works in your business, wouldn't that be worth showing up and learning? And if all this did was to help you create that predictable and repeatable plan to increase your sales so that you feel more financially secure? Wouldn't that be worth working through some uncomfortableness? Now you guys know that I'm a straight shooter. So I am giving you a heads up here. I am creating this content for you, in advance to prepare you to make a financial decision that is going to change your life and your business. You just have to follow the framework. It's been proven again and again, like Kate, who increased her sales by three quarters of a million dollars in less than three months. Who doesn't want that this stuff works. So if you want to come and join me for the challenge to double your sales in 90 days, come over and join me at Selena night.com forward slash challenge. So before we finish up, I just want to do a recap of what we talked about. So first up, we talked about the fact that you cannot, under any circumstances, abdicate responsibility for your money. I don't care if you are a billionaire, you still need to know where that money is, what it's doing for you what its return is going to be how much money there's going to be in the bank and what is going out. And if you are hiring experts, make sure that you are both on the same page about the services that they're providing, what's included and what isn't. And you have to hold them accountable. Okay, so that said, if you want to come and join me and learn how to double your sales in your retail or ecommerce business in 90 days, I cannot wait to see you there. Head over to Selena night.com forward slash challenge and join. Alrighty, I will see you on the next episode of The bringing business to retail podcast. Have a fantastic week. So that's a wrap. I'd love to hear what insight you've gotten from this episode and how you're going to put it into action. If you're a social kind of person, follow me at the Celina night. And make sure to leave a comment and let me know. And if this episode made you think a little bit differently or gave you some inspiration, or perhaps gave you the kick that you need. Ready to take action? Then please take a couple of minutes to leave me a review on your platform of choice. Because the more reviews the show gets, the more independent retail and E commerce stores just like yours, that we can help to scale. And when that happens, it's a win for you, a win for your community, and a win for your customers. I'll see you on the next episode.

3:48 The importance of financial stability in business.

8:20 Financial struggles in business.

12:55 Blaming others vs taking responsibility in business.

16:20 Financial mistakes and business viability.

21:10 Saving a business from debt and potential closure.

27:02 Doubling sales in 90 days for retail and E-commerce businesses.



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