Never Been Promoted

"The Efficiency Expert": Karena Bell on the Path to Peak Profitability

March 10, 2024 Thomas Helfrich Season 1 Episode 28
"The Efficiency Expert": Karena Bell on the Path to Peak Profitability
Never Been Promoted
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Never Been Promoted
"The Efficiency Expert": Karena Bell on the Path to Peak Profitability
Mar 10, 2024 Season 1 Episode 28
Thomas Helfrich

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Never Been Promoted Podcast with Thomas Helfrich


Join Thomas Helfrich as he delves into the entrepreneurial genius of Karena Bell, CEO and founder of Profit Lines. In a world where cash flow and profitability are the lifeblood of every business, Karena shares her transformative journey from corporate enterprise IT to leading a global profit optimization advisory. Discover how Profit Lines is making significant impacts on businesses worldwide by increasing their net profit through a blend of innovative solutions, focusing on vendor management, supply chain optimization, and sales team efficiency.



About Karena Bell:


Karena Bell has leveraged her extensive background in corporate enterprise IT, specializing in hardware, software, and financial efficiencies, to pioneer Profit Lines. With over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies, Karena identified a crucial gap in the market for small, mid, and large organizations needing comprehensive profit optimization. Profit Lines stands out by offering tailored solutions that address each aspect of a business, ensuring not just short-term gains but long-term sustainability and growth.



In this episode, Thomas and Karena discuss:


Transitioning from Corporate to Entrepreneurship: The pivotal moments that inspire a shift towards founding Profit Lines.
The Art of Profit Optimization: Innovative strategies for increasing business net profit in various sectors.
The Power of Data and Systemization: How leveraging data and implementing systematic approaches can dramatically enhance operational efficiency and profitability.
Insights for Entrepreneurs: Practical advice for entrepreneurs at all stages, focusing on the significance of sales, operational efficiency, and having a clear exit strategy.



Key Takeaways:


Profit Beyond Revenue: Understanding the critical difference between generating revenue and securing profit.
Strategic Business Growth: The importance of aligning operational efficiency with financial goals for sustainable growth.
Empowering Sales Teams: The role of informed pricing and cost management in driving sales performance and business profitability.



"People don't always tell the truth, but the data never lies." - Karena Bell



CONNECT WITH KARENA BELL

Website (Company):https://profitlinz.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karenambell/




CONNECT WITH THOMAS:


X (Twitter): https://twitter.com/thelfrich | https://twitter.com/nevbeenpromoted
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hovienko | https://www.facebook.com/neverbeenpromoted
Website: https://www.neverbeenpromoted.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/neverbeenpromoted/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@neverbeenpromoted
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomashelfrich/
Email: t@instantlyrelevant.com


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Never Been Promoted Podcast with Thomas Helfrich


Join Thomas Helfrich as he delves into the entrepreneurial genius of Karena Bell, CEO and founder of Profit Lines. In a world where cash flow and profitability are the lifeblood of every business, Karena shares her transformative journey from corporate enterprise IT to leading a global profit optimization advisory. Discover how Profit Lines is making significant impacts on businesses worldwide by increasing their net profit through a blend of innovative solutions, focusing on vendor management, supply chain optimization, and sales team efficiency.



About Karena Bell:


Karena Bell has leveraged her extensive background in corporate enterprise IT, specializing in hardware, software, and financial efficiencies, to pioneer Profit Lines. With over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies, Karena identified a crucial gap in the market for small, mid, and large organizations needing comprehensive profit optimization. Profit Lines stands out by offering tailored solutions that address each aspect of a business, ensuring not just short-term gains but long-term sustainability and growth.



In this episode, Thomas and Karena discuss:


Transitioning from Corporate to Entrepreneurship: The pivotal moments that inspire a shift towards founding Profit Lines.
The Art of Profit Optimization: Innovative strategies for increasing business net profit in various sectors.
The Power of Data and Systemization: How leveraging data and implementing systematic approaches can dramatically enhance operational efficiency and profitability.
Insights for Entrepreneurs: Practical advice for entrepreneurs at all stages, focusing on the significance of sales, operational efficiency, and having a clear exit strategy.



Key Takeaways:


Profit Beyond Revenue: Understanding the critical difference between generating revenue and securing profit.
Strategic Business Growth: The importance of aligning operational efficiency with financial goals for sustainable growth.
Empowering Sales Teams: The role of informed pricing and cost management in driving sales performance and business profitability.



"People don't always tell the truth, but the data never lies." - Karena Bell



CONNECT WITH KARENA BELL

Website (Company):https://profitlinz.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karenambell/




CONNECT WITH THOMAS:


X (Twitter): https://twitter.com/thelfrich | https://twitter.com/nevbeenpromoted
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hovienko | https://www.facebook.com/neverbeenpromoted
Website: https://www.neverbeenpromoted.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/neverbeenpromoted/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@neverbeenpromoted
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomashelfrich/
Email: t@instantlyrelevant.com


InstantlyRelevant.com
Serious about LinkedIn Lead Generation? Stop Guessing what to do on LinkedIn and ignite revenue from relevance with Instantly Relevant Lead System


Support the Show.

Serious about LinkedIn Lead Generation? Stop Guessing what to do on LinkedIn and ignite revenue from relevance with Instantly Relevant Lead System

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Welcome to the Never Been Promoted podcast with Thomas Helfrich. Get ready for a thrilling adventure as we uncover entrepreneurial journeys and life changing business insights every week. And now, your host, Thomas.

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Welcome to another episode of Never Been Promoted, where we are unleashing your entrepreneur. Hi, I'm Thomas Hellfrich, your host. And we are. If this is your first time joining, by all means, stay, because thank you for getting on here. If you've been here before, once again, thanks for coming back. This podcast is all about helping entrepreneurs be better at entrepreneurship. And we're doing this through learning from other entrepreneurs on their journey, their successes, their failures. And the idea is, I have a movement. I'm calling it cut the tie movement, where we are making more entrepreneurs in this world, and we're going to help them be better at it. And one of the entrepreneurs that we're meeting today is Karena Bell, who is the CEO and founder of Profit Lines. Karena, say hello and thank you for coming, and maybe introduce yourself just a bit.

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Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me, Thomas. I'm happy to be here today. And as you said, founder and CEO of Profit Lines. We are a profit optimization advisory and implementation firm, and we work around the globe helping organizations significantly increase their net profit. The solutions that we use are varied. However, our core service always remains the same.

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The idea of increasing your profitability, if you're an entrepreneur listening, and that doesn't make you want to think to listen a bit more, you either very so successfully profit that you don't need it, or you don't understand what works because it's not enough to make money. You have to be profitable to have cash flow to be able to survive. But before we dive into that, because I think that's cash flow kills most companies, right? If you don't have it, that's the one thing that ends it. And your journey here, I think maybe just back up, just talk about how you got to founding this company. Maybe your aha. Moment that set it off and maybe a few sentences before it.

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Sure. My previous experience was working in corporate enterprise, it in hardware, software, system process optimization, and finance optimization and efficiencies for Fortune 500 companies. So what I was doing internally for about 30 years is something that I took when I moved into entrepreneurship. And I recognized that in the open market, those were actually solutions that were missing for many small, mid and large organizations looking at end to end, top to bottom, all of the different elements in a business that could literally be pulling profits out of the business.

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So what was the trigger to become on the entrepreneurial side?

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Oh, great question. I had always known I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I just never had the courage to take the leap. And then April 1, 2019, my entire department was eliminated. And that was the end of my corporate career. Took some time to reevaluate everything and even said to myself, I said, you know what? I never want to do this again. The work I was doing. And what I realized was I'd gone. And I ran and created a couple of businesses that were wildly different. However, I lost that passion, I lost that fire, and then came back around to what I really enjoyed and what I'm good at and found that it wasn't that I never wanted to do it again. I wanted to do it on my terms that were more serving to the client versus the organization, if that makes sense.

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Yeah, it does. And getting laid off eliminated, however you want to do it. I think jokingly, you know, I've off camera have said my next book will be called asked to leave. But when that happens, it is traumatic. And you kind of put on a face the best you can. But inside you're like, what now? What next? And as you get older in life, right, you start thinking, how many more times do I want to do this? And at what point do they stop hiring me? You have all those going on. So you start the company. As many people are forced into it, you're forced into making a decision. And I'm sure it's not that you didn't look for other things, but at the same time, you're like, you half heartedly look at the same time you're trying to build your own business. Was that your case as well?

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Actually, I had prepared myself for starting my own business and that. So I had capital in reserve and had the luxury of taking four to six weeks. And actually, after about four weeks, we decided we needed a change of scenery and went to Jamaica for a week. And that's where a lot of the creativity and the noise quieted down and the focus for what do I really want to do next? What do I enjoy doing? And how can I surround myself with other people that enjoy doing the same thing and really make an impact? I jokingly say, when people ask me, I said, what do you do? I said, all we do is put more cash into businesses. In a nutshell, that's what we're doing. However, there's so many different areas that a lot of people aren't aware of, and that's where we have our most fun, is the education, the information and then actually recognizing that benefit.

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You're speaking my language like that. And ironically, the way you lost your job was to put more cash in a business. They say, we don't need this division anymore, which there's so much irony there. We can probably do a whole series of podcasts on the irony behind that one. Your first client, how'd you find them?

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My first client was a friend of mine, a fellow business owner, and she had a need that we were able to help her with. She was paying too much for, ironically, her merchant services, which is something that was pretty small for her. However, we were small. We were starting out, and we wanted to start small. And I still have her today. In fact, I'm actually losing money on her. But I don't mind. She was the one. She was the one that started everything that moves from there.

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I know what you mean. One of our first customers has still been with us for almost three years, and I never raised prices on them, and I should. And they don't refer anybody either, really, so much. They're easy to work with. They love what we do. And I'm super appreciative that one of the first customers we've ever had that I didn't know it was like a first. Hey, they heard me on a podcast, and it was like, oh, because of that, I was like, all right, that's pretty cool. You said we. You have a partner in your business.

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No, it is my business. I have division leaders, and then I also have strategic partners, and I bring in 1099 resources as we need it, and as the volume dictates. As an operations and efficiency expert, I would hope that our house is pretty tight before we're actually going into other houses.

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Yeah. So, anyway, listening. I know Krina a bit offline, so I knew that was what the answer that was. But I was letting her set up her softball. You talk as if you're a team, but the truth is, a lot of solopreneurs are. It's you directing it, and if it all went the crap, it's going to be you at the end of it. And that's an okay model to set up with. Where you've limited your w two overhead, you've limited your other costs, and everyone is tied to revenue. And I think the takeaway I wanted to say there is tying everyone in your company to revenue as often as possible from their compensation, from their ability to be with on staff full time, whatever else it motivates people to do better work. Are you seeing the same in your world as well, oh, absolutely.

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Because the colleagues I have, they don't just have one opportunity to create income, they have multiple opportunities to create income. What I mean by that is we pay referral fees or we have strategic partners and things like that. And everyone we work with is eligible for the same incentives that anyone outside the organization would be eligible for. And we found that people really appreciate that because some options may resonate with them or they know people personally, but they don't feel good selling or in sales and things like that. So we found that that's one of those benefits that our colleagues really enjoy because they can go have fun with it. Everyone has their base that they make, but now we have many options where they can add to it. And it's all result to your point. It's all result driven. And that's what I like. Results and data are the truth of a business.

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As you've been building your company, what's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome consistently?

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I would say the biggest challenge from the very beginning was not bringing in people sooner. And now when I mentor other business owners, I emphasize that one of your primary goals after sales, because sales should always be your priority every single day, is grow as fast as you can to create that capital that will allow you to bring in additional resources as quickly as you can. I see that so much where business owners are still too far into their business. I don't think a business owner never really gets out of it. I think it's unfair to say you need to be working on your business, not in your business. I think that scale tips as it needs to. But that's one thing I did myself, is I carried too much too long. And I see that with others. And just moving one or two things doesn't just free up. Sometimes it's exponential in what it does for you and allows you to think more strategic for your business.

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I'm in that spot myself here with my company. Right. Instantly relevant is that it's been founder led sales. This year, though, we kicked off, we have an SoP expert that's driving all our defining our sales process, looking at them, trying to standardize some of that stuff internally, because I know exactly how these, you get to some point where like, ik, it's growing great. It's exhausting. I know I'll never be out of it, but man, if I could add some sales resources to help give some different avenues, it allows you to free up to go do other things that are on the business related. So that's a hard step. And do you see a lot of companies that, from my perspective, I see entrepreneurs all the time where they're in that half million to million range of revenue and they're trying to go to two to four and maybe you see them go from five to ten and you're like, hey, by if I free up this much capital, are you seeing that's the component and the capital outlay that's needed to bring, and then also the consulting to bring the right resource in to allow them to take that step? Or where do you see your entrepreneurs and your companies you work with? What's the big goal? Is it just cash flow or is it to find the investment to grow more? Or a mix of both?

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A lot of times it's a mix of both, because most entrepreneurs that I'm working with, they're on an upward trend or they want to go on an upward trend. And those that got them to one, two, three or 5 million are not going to be. Sometimes those people are not going to be the ones that are going to get them to the next milestone, the eight to 10 million. There may need to be a shift in talent in the business. Sometimes it might even be the owner taking a different role, not leaving, but taking a different role. And yes, the cash flow, that is key. And especially I love working with owners that are seeking capital externally in their business, where we can have the conversation and say, hang on a second, let's see what we can find internally that's hiding beneath the sheets in your business. And oftentimes we can identify a significant capital source within their business that shrinks their need to go externally, especially now where banks, traditional banks, are not loaning and we have to look at other unconventional resources for our owners.

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What would be an example of an unconventional or typical. Can you have a typical unconventional resource? I think you can.

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Well, when I say that, it's those that specialize in different types of loans, bridge loans, collateral loans, invoice based loans, short term debt to ratio loans, things like that. Or if it's even bigger, because we provide that type of loan from 250,000 to 5 million. Now above 5 million, I have capital raise strategic partners that I work with. We're working on a couple of proJects. One's 30 million, one's one and a half million. So that is more where you're working with investor groups that are looking for your type of solution to invest in to help your business grow.

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Got it. Let's get into the cash flow bit. So let's PEel the COVID You can do top three, if it makes SENSE, but top three, you come in. These are the top three things that are draining your cash flow today, for sure. You can go with one if it's easier, but three would be beTter.

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Gosh, I would say vendor management, contract management is typically a big one. Procurement supply chain is typically a big one. And then let's see if they are big enough to have a sales team. A lot of times the sales team can be a profit pull out of the organization where they are incented by revenue and they are commissioned on revenue. However, after the direct and indirect costs are taken away from that revenue, a lot of times THEY're losing profit. They're actually losing money. If the sales team is not informed of what the profit margins have to be for them to be successful, and we find that a lot, that leadership is hesitant to share the profit margins with their sales team. So the sales team is going on the revenue numbers, and they may be dipping into the profit to close the deal. And then when you look at the columns, you identify the ones that are losing money. And I smile because I have an example in my mind, that of someone we worked with recently. We identified 133 of their customers that were literally losing money for them month after month. The worst offender was $110,000 a year was pulled out of the company. That equated to $602,000 in lost revenue. We were able to remediate that and WATERFALL what worked very well. What was high profit, HIGh MARGIN. We then waterfall that through their portfolio, and we're able to recover 3 million in business valuation for that business.

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That's like a silent killer right there. So if the accounting functions or the control functions aren't there to really understand the steps of how your top salesperson may very well be your top revenue profitability loss person as well.

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Absolutely. And it's very common. It's very common that people are focused very much on the revenue number and not as much on the net profit number. And I always say revenue is vanity and profit is sanity. As a lot of people say, oh, we sold or we generated one and a half million in revenue this year. However, you may not be profitable. And we want to shrink that gap between the revenue and the profit as much as we possibly can. Another element, too, is businesses that are not operating at the profit margin. That is their industry benchmark and their industry standard. What a lot of owners don't realize is if you're not operating at that standard, it can exponentially decrease your business valuation and your credit score. But if you're at your market or above your market, it will exponentially increase your business valuation and your credit score. And that's something that a lot of owners don't think about is their actual credit score and the valuation of their business and how the two are tied together. One of the tools. Oh, I'm sorry. Go ahead.

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No, it's funny that you quoted Alan Miltz with my. I did this in my book. Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, and cash is king. Cash is king or queen. Let's be clear here. Should be queen. If you play chess, the queen is like the most popular, so it should be queen. But I agree with you that there's a float and understanding, because if you have endless cash, you can build a great. There's a lot of companies that do that. They have this great funding, and they build a company, they sell it and they multiply it. But end of the day, that cash is king after you've gotten the profitability through it. And that drives more cash. Typically.

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I was going to say that one of the tools we use is a forensic financial analysis of the PNL of the company. And what that does is it gives us line item level detail in whatever format we're looking for of the who, what, where that profit is being lost in the company. And then that gives us the roadmap to go look within the business of where do we need to get into the weeds and find where the leaks are?

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Maybe it's a good time to say this, too, right? So what kind of companies does this work? Do you work best with? And what would be their first step with you? Or if they're interested in learning more, set it up. This is who should contact me. This is who we work best with. This is who benefits most from it. Not that everybody couldn't, but who's the best kind of fit and how do they get hold of you?

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Right. Well, we actually have two revenue verticals that we work within. And our first revenue vertical is a small to mid sized businesses that with annual revenues between a million and 80 million. And then our commercial enterprise and growth vertical is 80 million and above. We don't have a lid on the high side. Our application is the same. The scope is just defined based on the size of the organization and where it is they want us to go. The people that we're typically talking to are the business owners, partners, private equity firms, m a folks, business brokers, lawyers, cpas, and of course, the C suite coos, ceos, and certainly cfos. We're all having that conversation it's really any individual that has p l responsibility where they are responsible for reporting the p. L of their department or their business or their organization.

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Do you find there's organizations where you hit sandpaper, where it was someone's job that should be knowing this and they're a little more. I know there's sometimes services you bring in like we're a marketing company, right? We come in, sometimes you get pushback from marketing because you may do something better than them. You may be perceived as a threat. So from an entrepreneurial standpoint, listening, right. How do I manage that? Or how do you manage that specifically when you have a potential conflict, I guess, of interest?

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Yeah, no, that's a great question. And that's common. Oftentimes we may be brought in by the CEO under the CFO, and then there's someone under them that sees it as a threat. Typically what we do is we do a lot of asking questions to gauge where that individual is at and if there is a bit of pushback in that. It's really discussing how this is a partnership for whoever we work with. And I like to say we're one of those shadow benefits that we work in the background, we do the heavy lifting and the results are yours. And you can take the credit for it because it was your decision to bring us in, it was your decision to work with us, and now the benefits are yours to go and report and take the credit for. And we really are looking at more of a partnership than replacement. And one thing I tell our clients that we work with is that we work standing, so we work with a sense of urgency. We want to get your benefit implemented as quickly as possible. We have no desire to have a seat in your organization. However, we do stay in touch, we do stay in contact, and we usually do quarterly trend analysis to make sure that what we put in place stays in place. And if there's any adjustments that need to be made, they're being made. But our goal is to optimize the teams and the processes and the tools they have in place and then turn the keys over for them to monitor and control.

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I try to find takeaways as I meet other entrepreneurs and what they're doing and kind of extrapolate it to any entrepreneur that's listening in, in this case. Right. And specifically, when you're thinking of your own business, entrepreneurs out there think of ways to tie what you do to revenue. Your business is certainly ROi positive for an investment. For a company to say, we're going to invest x amount of dollars into profit lines. We're going to come out long term, maybe not right off the first month or whatever, year even, but long term it's a profitable investment because they learn how to be more profitable by your work. And if you're an entrepreneur out there and you think about what am I offering as a service? Is it a cost, is it a nice to have? Or does it drive more revenue or more cash into the company? And if the answer is the last two, you got something. Got something that's real, that people will always listen to and you'll have to refine. But I think what you've created is endless. You're never working for anyone else again, because what you offer is more cash. Give me 1000, I'll give you ten. I'll find ten back over time, because the business case is a no brainer.

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Well, in one takeaway for the listeners is, especially for business owners, a lot of times where we find opportunity, where there's a lot of profit leaking out of a business, is in the pricing. Where the total cost of goods sold, whether it's a service or a product, is not part of the formula of pricing. A lot of times pricing is what are my competitors doing? I feel like it should be this, instead of letting the data drive it. That's one that if someone's thinking, where can I start? That would be the starting point is be really honest from end to end. How much does it cost you to deliver x? And then make sure that your pricing is aligned with, of course, the market, but also you want to look at your profit margin, your industry standard, where should you be operating? So there's a few elements there.

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Yeah, no, definitely. And even in my own business, I look at it, we base ours often on, and we found it by we continue to raise prices till some people said no is what was our strategy, and then combined it with other factors, such as cost to deliver other the nondirect costs, which are very sometimes hard to calculate into it when you're doing a million different things. But also just what do competitors pay? But what value? So I sent some of the questions, is what value? So if it only took you a penny to deliver something that produced a dollar of value every time you did it, the margin doesn't matter, it's the value. Sometimes it may cost you 1000 units to produce the value and it only produces 1.3. But that 1.3 is super valuable to the right company. So you have low margin, but high fee. And I think that's the part that most, I think, founders don't. They get maybe parts of it because they may be good at something else, but that's where a company like yours can come in and help with the math side of that. To say, you do this okay, but you're losing 10%, 12% of your pricing structure for no reason. Is that a fair kind of a way to think of it?

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Absolutely. And you hit on a point that I always like to reinforce, is that people don't always tell the truth, but the data never lies. The data never lies. The data will tell us where we need to go. The data will tell us where we're doing very well, and it will tell us where we need to improve, and there's opportunity for us to get back into that very well category. And that's why I like the data, because it tells us, again, how healthy are we? We like preventative measures. We don't want to wait until we get sick to go to the doctor. We want to prevent from having to go to the doctor. I also think about it like an emergency doctor, where two people come into the emergency room. Two people have an equal chance of dying. One is bleeding from the major artery, another one is bleeding from 1000 cuts. The one bleeding from a major artery, you know what to go after. You know how to solve it. The one bleeding from 1000 cuts can be overwhelming, and the outcome could be terminal.

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Yeah, it sounds like more people are needed to fix it, and it sounds slower and painful. More painful to die. In both cases, though, you survive because you called profit lines and they. No, no, we got the right band aid solution. Trying to keep these metaphors positive. Karena, come on. Yeah, well, all right. So I think. Listen, what you do is. No question. I want to open that, you know, shameless plug time. If you made it this part. Come on, don't leave. Listen to the shameless plug, because it might not be for you, but you might be asking for a friend, too. So, Karena, who should get a hold of you and how they do that.

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The people that should get a hold of us are those. That their operations are a bit chaotic. Admittedly, you've had a recent change in leadership or frequent changes in leadership. You are looking for capital externally, and you're frustrated with the lack of options out there. And also anyone who right now says we're doing good, or they might say, I know we're broken. I'm not sure where. I don't have the time and the resources to go run after it, but we're still doing okay because we're still in the black. It's really someone who's open to having that discovery call and having that discussion to identify. Is there opportunity here for both of us to work together? And at the end of the day, if you're not better for it, we don't get paid.

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And where should they go? Like to your website or what's the best way to get a hold of you?

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Yeah, a profit lines profit. Li nZ.com is the best place to reach out. We have a calendar and email addresses and a phone number.

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A ton of information too. And maybe just asking for the small, small business owner, the people who are on the cusp, the ones that are making maybe 250 to under a million. Are there plans, are there ways to interact with you to help them? Because if they find an extra 5000 cash flow a month, that might be enough to get them to the go the next because that might be advertising dollars that could be used to get them to the next level. Is there a place for them in your organization to work with?

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Absolutely. What I would do with anyone under a million a year, we would start out with our contingency services and that way we do the work and whatever we produce, we get paid a percentage of. And that way it's not out of pocket, it's not out of budget, and it gives them an opportunity to work with us and we get to work with them to see is there alignment here and do we want to move forward. And oftentimes what happens, regardless of the size, is when we start with some of our solutions that starts increasing the cash flow. And then now you've got that cash flow to spend on other solutions, whether it's us or someone else. That it's a flywheel that starts to spin in the right direction of your cash flow and your capital in the business. And I have to say the one area I get the most juice out of is when I'm working with an owner or a leader. And we say, what are you going to do with that extra $250,000 this year? And they say, we're going to put it right back into our employee wellness program. We're going to take some more off employee benefits premiums and they're putting it right back into the people, not just the business. And that's where it gets really good.

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Anything wrong with saying I'm putting a pool in?

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Not at all. Not at all.

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Because here you come. We're going to put a pool in.

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Yeah, you can have team building in your pool.

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That's the Profit Lines pool. Right there pought in how do you price that? So walk me through that. So let's say you start with a company makes a half, they're doing a half million a year. You identify some areas, maybe it's an extra 1500 a month, maybe it's 500. Whatever they take that, are you taking it just off the 501,500 or is it then the additional investment they made into advertising? How does that scale? So they don't have, ironically, a drain on profitability moving forward? Because on something that was. So how do you take that math? So it makes sense?

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Oh, that's a good question. If we are looking at vendor management and we're looking at all of the contracts, the AP, the accounts payable of a company, what we do say it's three years, the contracts are three year contracts. We would negotiate the savings and then the first few months of the contract year, we would bill 3456 months of what was negotiated for that year. So year one, it would be one to three or four months. Year two, it'd be build one to three or four months. So it's recognized it's in the business versus pulling out of existing budgets. We're flexible on that as well, because again, we're there to help the businesses. If the invoicing is going to be too much, we can definitely push it out, because more than anything, we want to make sure their bottom line is better when we got there. Better than when we got there, yeah.

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I mean, the two areas I'd see on small business that matter is if you can help them fix pricing a bit for a year run or whatever else, you can make a tail on that I see as being a very valuable asset for somebody who might be trying to buy in another company, because you're looking at, hey, you're doing a valuation, not so much to help the other company that's being bought of. I think we can improve profitability because of X, Y and Z, which gives you a value of buying the company, meaning like, hey, they have inefficiencies here, here and here. I think once you buy it, you make that revenue. Do you guys work in that kind of merger acquisition space where you can identify value in a targeted acquired company?

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Yeah, absolutely. We actually sit on both sides of the table. If we're working with a client that wants that, they're working on their exit plan, and that's usually a three to five year plan and just a plug for exit plans. Every business owner should have an exit plan, and it doesn't mean that it's exiting the business itself. But you definitely want to plan for that. But your exit in your role could be internal, where someone else is taking over for you. But in exit planning, where you plan on selling your business, that's something you want to think of three to five years out. And we do. We will work with the businesses that are looking to increase their valuation. And then on the flip side, we will evaluate businesses that are being considered for purchase to identify the profitability once it's in house, and the changes that can be made.

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Yeah, so I think that's another use case, because I think someone who's maybe on a growing business in that sub million and you're like, hey, listen, I think we could probably be at 8 million, 7 million in five years, bringing an expert that says, that's great, because if you get that with this type of profitability and these kind of systems, your business then gives them a multiplier of maybe one x additional when they sell it. Their investment into a company like Profit Lines then allows them to do it. So I think entrepreneurs, if you're thinking about this and you're the leader, you got to think strategic of, I'd like to exit this business in three to five years, or some version of that, or have a liquidation event or something. This is where that investment in Profit Lines are. A company like that, right? To improve your profitability and understanding of your financials and your numbers gives you a multiplier. At the end of the day, if you broke even on everything else, that multiplier would be worth it.

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It would. And it's not just the cost of the organization, it's the operations as well that have to mature with the profitability of the company. So it's multidimensional. And that's why you definitely want to work with someone who's bringing a solution that covers the entire business, not just the bottom line and the profit lines.

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Agreed. All right, I'll leave you. We're going to transition to the little quick fire just so people can get some learnings from you of what's helped you along the way. But I will say, I'll leave this kind of. I wouldn't wait to call. I at least reach out to Karena, if you can. And I know I'm having a conversation with this about some stuff in our a, because I've learned a ton of this. Karena, this has been very helpful to understand where you position, but also, I think just having the idea that you don't have to be a bigger company to have the initial conversation and you'll learn something of, hey, here's some areas know. I'm sure there's some advice that come take a look at it and it benefits. So thank you for sharing all this. Tell me something I always ask this question is in your journey or whatever else, as an entrepreneur, what books do you recommend people read or listen to?

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Oh my goodness, I'm an avid reader. Avid, avid.

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You got to pick one then this can be tough for you.

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One, I would say traction.

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Traction. Why do you like traction?

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Traction. Traction is the book on EOS and EOS is the methodology for systematizing your business. And you had hit on it earlier with the Sops. When you have something documented, the results are predictable, your success becomes predictable. And I think traction is a really good book that explains that and it's digestible where you can actually start applying methodologies individually or you can bring in an EOS expert and they can drive your implementation much quicker and it becomes a mindset as well. You will change as a business owner when you adopt that type of methodology. And you will look to systematize everything you look at, which is a good thing because again, when you systematize it, you give it to someone else. When someone else is doing it, you can predict what their success or you can predict their performance on it. And again, being a data person, those are key. I always tell people that every opportunity you get to systematize anything in your business, do it.

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I'd extend that in your life. Now for the entrepreneur add who just died inside hearing that because you're like follow a process, here's what it does, does. So this is a double secret. If you made it to this point in the podcast, you're going to get something. Because I have the entrepreneurial add, as many of us do. But I find every time I systemize something, it allows me to have the entrepreneur add moment to think of something new because I know that part is now running. And so the more things you can systemize even in your life, like make sure that if you can only do things, if you do it all the time, then make sure you go work out every day at the same time. Now I'm still failing there, so that being said. But the point is, repeat it. If you only take your vitamins when they're right in front of your sink, put them all in front of your sink every day, don't try to find them around the house or wherever you left them. The point is systematize what you do so you have the mindset to be able to be where you need to be to go take the next steps. Otherwise you get drowned out and you don't move anywhere, you just tread water.

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Yeah, you bring up a good point. I'm that same person, too. Because when I say systematize, it doesn't have to be heavy, it doesn't have to be complicated. But one thing to ask yourself when you're doing busy work is, is this a money making activity for my business or is it busy work? And I always like to say when I'm talking to other business owners, is it an MMA? Is it MMA? If the answer no, you need to offload it. You need to offload it. And your colleagues staff should be asking themselves the same question. There's so much that you can do with automation that is low cost. A lot of times it's free. That what it brings back into your business again is it will be significant and it will also help with employee retention. Now you're taking that busy work off of a lot of people, or you're at least taking a majority of that busy work and you're systematizing, you're automating where now they're just doing a little bit of it. They're not buried underneath of it.

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Exactly. And I will throw this out there. Anybody automate as much as you want, huge fan of it, but don't automate your initial connections to people. Definitely have some kind of human connection, at least to start the conversation. Email later. Fine, but I would definitely touch that. The other piece, I would say that's from an automation standpoint, and I think from a systemization standpoint is centralized stuff without having to chase a silver bullet. And what I mean by that is, as we've built this podcast, even we were initially just kind of on one platform, recording on another. And then the teams are breaking up the podcast itself. But we went to a technology, I'm not going to promote them because they don't sponsor, but they should. But now we can go there and upload the whole episode and it'll help organize the shorts, it'll help create an episode and refine. And it just cut out like 10 hours an episode of organization, of get it ready for production. And when you take that approach, that 10 hours makes it. I can get way more podcasts out now, but that happen right away. I had to look and see at the process to see where the pain was. The team was getting frustrated, and then I went out to go find a way to solution it. And you try to minimize the ways to do that. So I think traction is a grown one to look at. I agree. It's a great book as well. Anybody on LinkedIn or other social media, you just love their content. You think they should follow.

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You know, who I really love is one of my colleagues. His name is Adam Boyd, and when his content comes across, I take the time to read it. And Adam actually develops. He works exclusively with lawyers and law firms and teaches them how to sell their services successfully. But his approach, his content, applies to everyone in sales. So Adam Boyd is somebody that I would definitely recommend to check out and follow.

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Yeah, no, I've seen some of his content as well. It's very clever how he does that. Just take a look at this stuff. There's quite a few Adam boys out there, but given the description he's got, you'll get it right. One of the final questions I want to ask for, you know, what do you think your best entrepreneurial trait is?

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I would have to say seeing the potential and the capabilities in others and telling them. So often people have thoughts, dreams, and desires, but they don't have the courage to pursue them. And all they need is that little bit of validation from someone else. And I think everyone is guilty of that. Where we all have, oh, I'd really like to try that, but that's something I do, is that, Thomas, you're very good at problem solving. Do you realize how much of a skill set that is? Do you see that? Is that something you're comfortable with? Do you enjoy doing that? Oh, yeah. You know what I do? I look at it like a puzzle, and I really enjoy. That's amazing. Have you ever thought of doing this and helping them level up? Whether they thought of it or not, now you're planting that seed. You're giving them that idea that now I want to think about what's next. Not mired in where I am right now and afraid to move somewhere. Life is a risk. Business is a risk. Entrepreneurship is a risk. I look at risks as adventures and fun. If you're not taking risks, you're never going to know. You're never going to know the answer.

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No one's getting out a lot, so no one's getting out of this. You might as well take a couple. I'm not saying you should go head on to traffic, but you should definitely roll the dice a little.

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Educated, educated risks. If you feel good to have a safety net, do that. But get out there and try things. Get out there and try things. You never know. I've talked to so many people where side hustles became multimillion dollar businesses by mistake, had no intention. So dream big. Dream big. And to me, if your dream is big enough, and I know this sounds a little woo woo, but that day to day, the day to day challenges and those frustrations that you run into, they become smaller when you keep your eye on the big goal of why you're doing what you do. We all do things we don't like to do or we have to do. But I know that works for me, that when I'm caught in a challenge, I go, you know what? I need to get on the other side of this as quickly as I can. Because now my goals, if I stay in it or wallow in it or I think about the past too much, I'm not focused on the future. My goals are impatient. They're sitting here going, why aren't you here yet? Why aren't you here yet? So it's that constantly looking forward, constantly pushing and pulling forward, because nothing's going to happen in the past that's any good for you unless there's a lesson in it. Always keep your eyes forward. What more can you do? How big can you take it? How much fun can you have while you're doing it? And bring some people with you. Bring some people along.

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I'm going to leave the last question. It's an important one. I always ask it. If you don't answer it right, it's wrong. So have you ever been promoted in a w two job?

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Have I ever been promoted? I was a number of times.

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So you will be looking inside or outside, fogging up the windows into our club of never been promoted people. So sorry, you answered that one wrong. You're out. Krina, thank you so much for joining today. Once again, go to profitlines.com. It's profitlinz.com to get a hold of Karena. Thank you for joining.

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Thank you for having me. Thomas, this was a pleasure.

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You're an amazing business leader and I've learned a lot. I can't wait to do some follow ups with you on this. Anybody who's made it this point in the show, thank you so much. And this was your first time. I do hope you come back. And if you've been here before, thank you for just listening to the show and listening to our guests. And I really want everyone to kind of join this idea, this movement of cut the tie, the way you think and the way you behave, because I want you to really behave in the way that entrepreneurs can learn from you. Get out there. Share your stories. It's relevant, even if it's small, even if you just started, because someone's going to learn from it. And until we meet again next time, get out there and unleash your entrepreneur. And thanks for listening to the Never Been Promoted podcast.

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Thanks for listening to Never Been Promoted with Thomas Helfrich. Make sure to check the show notes for our guest contact information and any relevant links. Connect with Thomas personally at neverbendpromoted.com.


Introduction
Importance of Profitability
Karena's Entrepreneurial Journey
Trigger to Entrepreneurship
Starting Profit Lines
Building the Business
First Client Experience
Expansion and Team Building
Cash Flow Management
Top Cash Flow Drains
Challenge of Scaling
Ideal Clients for Profit Lines
Managing Internal Resistance
Key Profit Leakage Areas
Contacting Profit Lines
Pricing Strategies and Profitability
Book Recommendations and Insights
Final Thoughts