The Numbers Whisperer: Helping Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners Achieve Their Financial Goals
“I am not a bookkeeper and I’m not an accountant,” says Nicole Fende, owner of independent financial consulting company The Numbers Whisperer (TNW). “I get asked that all the time, and people certainly need those things, but I pick up where bookkeepers and accountants leave off.”
After serving as chief financial officer for Aetna Philippines and then as assistant director for ABN AMRO Asia Financial Services, Fende launched TNW to focus on helping small business owners and entrepreneurs find a clear path to their financial goals. “I take the situation someone’s in today and help them figure out what they need to achieve those profit goals in the future,” Fende says. “People come to me because they see their goals, they know there’s a path to reach them, but can’t understand how to get around obstacles that are in the way.”
Financial obstacles take on many forms, most of which are self-induced. One example is not tracking small expenses, or what Fende calls Death by One Thousand Cuts. “People think because something costs only five dollars, saving the receipt doesn’t matter; but if you did that for fifty weeks that becomes $250 you’ve thrown away,” Fende explains. “What’s even worse is that if you don’t claim that as an expense you get taxed on it, so $250 becomes $337.”
At TNW, financial obstacles are referred to as Profit Blocks. Fende has identified three main Profit Blocks she addresses with clients. The first is The Bargain Bin, or low-balling the price on products and services. “A lot of business owners, especially those in the natural health field, struggle with The Bargain Bin,” Fende says. “There seems to be this belief that you can’t make a profit and do good at the same time.” Discounted prices might drive up the volume of business, but Fende cautions that its perceived value will suffer.
Businesses can even lose clients because they place themselves in The Bargain Bin. Fende worked with a business owner who low-balled her proposal for a promising account, believing that her price couldn’t be beat and the customer wouldn’t be able to say no. When the project went to another company, Fende says the business owner was devastated and questioned the decision. The answer was that they couldn’t believe her business would deliver the high-end services they wanted because, to them, cheap prices equaled cheap results.
The second Profit Block is Freebies. Fende says one of the top Freebies people struggle with is giving away time. “Time is considered a freebie because people don’t think it costs them anything. However, time is your most valuable asset. You can’t save it up or borrow it. All you get is what everyone else gets.”
Fende helps her clients figure out what they need to be paying themselves in order to achieve their profit goals, and how to recognize which situations are or aren’t appropriate for donating time. Giving away too many hours can add up to huge profit losses, which Fende says can sometimes add up into the tens of thousands of dollars every year.
The third Profit Block is the Copycat Syndrome. “What people do, particularly with pricing, is look at what competitors in the area are charging and do the same thing or something similar,” Fende says, adding that most small business owners don’t take into account important factors like education and training, whether the business they’re copying is actually turning a healthy profit, or whether similar pricing will pigeonhole them into a perceived level of ability or quality. “You don’t want to be a knock-off, you want to be the real deal,” says Fende. “If you are the copycat you’ll never be the leader in your market, in your profession, or even on your street, because everyone will say you’re just like the next person.”
One of Fende’s most satisfying job perks is hearing she helped lift a weight off her client’s shoulders. Money and numbers can be intimidating, which is exactly what TNW aims to overcome. “You don’t need to be afraid or ashamed, you can do the numbers and achieve your goals,” Fende says. “I’m dead serious about making money, but I’m also dead serious about helping people realize their own value and having fun while we do it.”
Then Numbers Whisperer is based locally at 3800 American Blvd., Suite 1500, Bloomington. Visit TheNumbersWhisperer.com to set up your free 30 minute consult with Nicole, learn how to book Nicole as a speaker for your next event, or explore the online learning opportunities. Nicole Fende’s book “How to be a Finance Rock Star: The Small Business Owner’s Ticket to Multi-Platinum Profits” can be purchased online at Amazon.com.