As the owner of LDM Expert and Vivity Internet Marketing, I have been talking to small business owners to learn about their businesses and find out what challenges they face in developing and growing their sales together with online marketing.
In today’s interview, I talk to Aggie, who owns CFO For Growth, a provider of consulting services aimed at helping businesses create the right financial strategies for the sound growth of their business.
From bookkeeper to FD: CFO for Growth will become your FD and accounting team and take care of your financial requirements, from bookkeeping, accounting, and management reporting to cash flow and business planning.
All this so that you can put more money in your bank account, increase your profitability and grow your business with much less stress.
I can whole heartedly recommend Aggie’s services and if you want to get in touch, I’ve provided her contact details here for you:
What we’ve covered today:
1. Aggie’s journey as a business owner – the good and the bad!
2. Aggie’s books recommendations to help you grow your business.
3. Biggest challenges that business owners face from Aggie’s perspective and how to overcome them.
4. Some straight-forward advice on how to manage your finances and build a stronger business.
good morning i'm here today to interview aggie um she's going to tell us a bit about her business and this is a series of interviews i'm doing um with people that i know um to help them promote the business but also to get an insight into how they do things aggie i'd like you to introduce yourself to the audience please and tell us about your business what do you do so my name is aggie would you have spared the full name but everybody calls me agi for obvious reasons and i'm a founder of cfo for growth a company that partners um with other businesses helping them with uh profitability cash flow we provide the virtual finance director service as well as bookkeeping this is our core service um in general we actually could be a virtual finance team and we focus prompt on working with uh agencies um sas businesses as well as service-based businesses oh interesting okay so we're about to see based in bristol but obviously we create a we work online so we cater for the for the whole of uk i have at the moment i live and i work in bristol okay so um i'd like to hear a bit about your journey um and your experience as a business owner so what's your kind of how do you get to start your own business and how long have you been running so the companies are only one and a half years old however i worked as a consultant before so my experience is about 15 years within finance manager finance management role in the finance management department i worked in a number of industries but my my background is predominantly from hospitality i had a chance to work you know for smaller businesses as well as big corporate businesses where probably i spent majority of my career this is my background uh you know in my business in my in my sort of employment journey i was very lucky i um i managed to travel i mean as you know i'm from poland but i actually most of my career i spent in the uk this is where i did my master's degree and um i actually had more most of my finance career here in the uk but i also was very lucky to work in the middle east for almost four years i was in dubai and while being there i had a chance to work with businesses on the site and i joined a startup incubator to mentor businesses and help them with the finances the operational finances running the finance finance departments as well as showing them things like forecasting and and business planning i really enjoyed that that role and basically during that time i decided that you know it's time to make the move and come back to the uk and actually start a business of my own uh obviously this happened right before the pandemic when i resigned so you know things happened it's not something i could control and i took a few months off when i arrived back in the uk but then i just hit the ground running and i decided to you know go out there look for my own clients and slowly but surely uh you know i'm i'm getting there i guess um it is obviously not you know everybody knows every business business owner knows it's a real rollercoaster i always used to hear other people saying this and now i'm experiencing myself but i'm just so proud of myself that finally i just had you know the guts to resign from corporate employment and and you know go out there and build something that it's my own and my own legacy well done no i congratulate that it's kind of thank you it's really important because so many so many people in a regular job they just don't really appreciate what it's involved setting up your own business they don't know the responsibility and we all worry about cash flow and getting paid and all that kind of stuff but we've had a corporate job we get the nice paycheck we have holidays we can be sick the money comes whether we go to work or not it's very comfortable but when we're on our own we can't afford to be sick we can't afford to be all and um most people who've never run their own business they've got no clue about that and they just don't understand do they so it's always very easy yes absolutely it's a very different experience very different and even if you think you know you try and predict you know what it is going to be like it's just impossible it's just impossible it really is and i think there's a there's another concept i think which i find very interesting there's one of delayed gratification because i think so many people of all ages they want to kind of they want whatever it is they want it now they want the holiday now they want the car now they want the iphone now whereas i know if you're working then that's fine people can take out loans to buy things but i think when we create our own business it's going to be a long we're in the game it's a long-term game and we know that we can make a lot of sacrifices with working long hours now but in the future the rewards will come so we have to delay that that gratification about yes this is a very good point a very good point i mean a lot of businesses statistically they don't survive the first three four first year or three years or even five years and therefore you know for for quite a bit of time it is a lot of uncertainty and we do need to like i said you just we do need to manage our budget pretty well because probably we are not paid as well as we were in our corporate job however it is a long-term game and um you know in the in the end it pays off but i think in the profession that you're in yourself aggie it's um in terms like the financial forecasting and the planning you're probably in a better position than most people to be able to do that well i try my best you know but sometimes it's really interesting because you know to get the insight into your own business it's uh it's very different than when you're working with someone else and you know sometimes i do also work with coaches and people who are helping me out with us people basically i i did team up and i'm in a mastermind with other accountants or final ofds who um you know whoever just far much further along in the in that journey and i think it's something that absolutely um you know i would say that i actually oh oh you know where i am at the moment i owe to them because people just shared their advice and their experience experiences on everything on everything and i would absolutely recommend to always be a part of some kind of membership with other um or mastermind with with other business owners i think it's just something that really had a massive impact on uh on my business and where i am at the moment that's really interesting it's very interesting because i think all business owners almost regardless of whatever business we do there's gonna be a certain common ground that we all face but obviously specialist businesses will face different challenges and i think in life it's always you know they say that we're surrounded by the people who make us successful and if we're if you're with people that are kind of a step up from us then we can learn from them if we're with people that are below us then they're nice friendships maybe but we're not going to learn very much from they'll learn from us so it's good to have people that are ahead of us so that we can ask questions and they can kind of pull us out the ladder hopefully yes absolutely and it's important to get in touch and be in contact with people who run businesses i think from my experience at least in my environment i don't have many friends who run their own businesses and because of that as well that support and sometimes even it might be harsh to say but the understanding they don't really understand the position the situation you're in you know when i'm almost obsessed about my clients and you know think about all the time and about them and how i can help them what i can do better you know to to serve them and par you know when i partner with them and actually i think the best people to speak to are other business owners not necessarily people within your nearest surgical friends as well no i think that's really important because it brings in new ideas and i think like so many of us we can be so immersed in our own business that we don't see the wood for the trees excuse me and it's good to have like an outside point of view um because people can kind of bring in a fresh perspective and by not having the prejudice of knowing about all your business inside out they can just throw in there might be they might seem like crazy ideas but sometimes yeah a light bulb will go off do you know what wow i hadn't thought of that great idea so i think those things are those insights are really valuable and uh i love it and i i read a lot of books and there's one guy i think it's malcolm gladwell or something and he was saying there's there are certain companies where they'll purposely bring on new staff that have got no experience in the domain whatsoever because they're bringing a completely fresh perspective and they'll just ask them they might ask some stupid questions because they don't understand enough yeah but sometimes those questions are real i hope this people listen carefully wow we hadn't even thought of that you know it's such an obvious thing to ask but you can't see the word for the trees you know this is true and you know today i was it's interesting i had a call with my clients today and we're looking at his pricing and basically pricing a quote a really big project that he's got coming and that's exactly the same you know i was asking him series of questions and working through a template or you know worksheet that i have and that was one of his main takeouts it's just a lot of things that i he just didn't think himself before when he was you know putting together quotes and there's really a lot of you know things to consider and you know an outside input can be sometimes invaluable absolutely absolutely so what's um what secrets do you have that you can share something interesting about you that nobody else knows
you know paul this is a tough one for me because i think i'm an open book you know uh but uh you know something interesting uh maybe not a secret but not i don't know not everybody maybe knows that once i attempted to do um a trip to the mount everest base camp i always like to tell you this story so i like trekking or i used to do quite a bit of trekking and i decided for my 30th birthday to go um and do trekking in the himalayas one of the most amazing things you can you can do and and obviously it was a great experience but really another thing from that was that a local newspaper wrote about me saying that i because i was raising also for charity i raised a small amount at the time for a charity though i was back in cardiff and i lived in lifting cardiff and the local newspaper wrote an article about me saying that i conquered mont everest but i really did not okay i only went this is a track that is available with a commercial track available for practically almost any anyone obviously uds you do get to a certain really you know high level you see that the the high mountains it's it's amazing but it's not the mount everest oh that's still very impressive i mean sure that's amazing it's uh having seen lots of movies about mountain race and read quite a few books um i'm very impressed i kind of uh i respect that very much it's a challenging place to be i'm sure yes it's it's it is though it's an amazing adventure though i would recommend to anyone so did that did that trip were there any kind of qualities or or values that it taught about yourself that you really had a bit of self-reflection that you thought you know you're in a situation that may be more challenging in everyday life where you really kind of emerge with some kind of enlightening thoughts and you know i the trip really taught me quite a bit i mean mostly i think humility um you know i got an altitude sickness when i was very close to the actual base camp so the base camp is a place where people start that the professionals start the track and then the climb really so this is the where you can you can you can't really get to the base camp you just get to a certain place that it's you know with a base camp sign because it's not allowed for any anyone just to go into the base camp where the professionals staying and but when i i was very close i think about two hours away and when i got altitude sickness and i just couldn't continue because it's just not allowed if you're going with a tour guide and it's something a condition that is very difficult difficult to hide so i have to come back so you know i i think uh the thing is that i had to really learn to appreciate that experience a lot even though i did have a you know what someone of what myself consider small consider a small failure because i i did not actually get to the stone i only got two hours i was about two hours away from it and so i guess this is something it's not an enlightening thought but i guess it's something that you know it's really important to um to understand that sometimes it might not be exactly you know it might not be a hundred percent there but you know i got 90 probably eight percent there and the most important thing i guess it's to never give up and give up and just obviously make sure that you know i did not want to give give up on tracking something that i loved you know because of that experience you know you just have to get back out there no i think it's really exciting i've um i've read a lot about altitude sickness and um yeah people trained really hard for a long long time because the air's thinner and all the rest of it yes i can't i can't imagine how difficult that is because i'm kind of a little bit out of shape so it's uh i'm a great admiration of you that's very impressive thank you so much what interest do you have outside of work if you have time for time outside of work um you know i spent probably if i'm not working yes i do work a lot admittedly probably a bit too much it's sort of a little bit in my nature and i'm learning you know to really manage my time in a way that i do schedule time for a time off so we see time with family and friends uh but also i do spend time reading such like you mentioned i read a lot and educate myself a lot predominantly business books but not only adventure personal development books um and you know spent a bit of time on skyscanner looking for another flight because i do like to travel so you know it's it's always great for me to even if it's really far ahead now you know especially during the pandemic you know spent just a bit of time on where i can go and what's out there what are the destinations that i would like to visit so this is probably where you know most of my time goes okay any any good book recommendations out of the books that you mentioned you were reading there uh you know at the moment i'm reading a book that i would even though it's specifically for accountants i would recommend to everybody i will then maybe share a link with you it's called untapped and it's booked by james ashford he's actually a coach on for accountants and then and a gentleman who founded go proposal which is a pricing system for accountants however this book is so relevant for any business owner and it basically talks about how you can increase your income and revenue from existing clients how to approach themselves them how to do the pricing and a lot of it is mindset as well and working on your mindset as a business owner um and i would really recommend it just something i'm really reading at the moment i haven't finished yet but it's an awesome book untapped i'll take a look at myself because yes so it's very new it only came out a few weeks ago and i think because i mean his membership um and a client of gold proposals were sort of i think we had like a first look but now it's available uh to to to anyone and i really strongly recommend it uh because of that especially of that you know the mindset piece that that's that comes to you know pricing because he combines both he's obviously he's an accountant himself so he talks a lot about the the you know the technical bits but then the mindset the confidence um it's just so crucial and he he he explains that a lot hmm now i'm interested i'm going to take a look i'll probably google it on not google i'll probably have it and see if i can have a because a lot you probably know on amazon you can have a quick look inside some of the books yes you can it's it's great that's your fault thank you so i know you've covered a little bit about this but um perhaps you could tell us a bit more about your business and the types of people that you help and and who you work with well the the predominantly the clients that come to me and work with me are um you know they want to grow their business this is the main thing they want to grow or even scale their business and they want to work with someone um who you know he's i guess a professional in terms of the finance capacity and it's not only about we're not really all about annual accounts or or tax plan even it's not our specialty our specialty is working with businesses on business planning on planning for the profitability cash flow and things like um you know i mentioned already pricing we do a lot of work around that and they're you know the potential working really on potential that the business uh can achieve we're working on budgeting forecasting and building a business roadmap so these are the more the most important things that we work on and achieve for our customers like i mentioned we do concentrate on working with service based businesses we specialize in in this a lot of our clients are agencies marketing agencies uh now sas customers as well or marketing agencies building a susp product it seems to be a big trend now i think it's an it's an area with a lot of potential so this is what i where our clients sort of you know they choose this is the path they choose and we're helping them out and you know helping them build the business you know tar the create the target achieve the targets and ultimately as well another part of our business is to um help them get rid of the financial admin we are all about working in the cloud automation and i think i hear a lot of complaints where business owners the ceos they say how is it that i'm still involved in certain you know finance admin or certain processes how is it that i'm involved and i feel like i'm spending so much time on it and obviously that's another part that we can then take away from them so for a little bit of peace of mind i guess and that you know how they can you know helping them manage their time and spending their time on things that actually matter and things that help them grow their business or for example spending time with their families on all their hobbies that's a big thing as well no it's interesting i think um i think so many of us you know when we start out we have to do everything you know the accounts receipts bookkeeping all of that stuff and i know it's a real burden and it's very mechanical it's quite tedious i think in the early days it's quite good to get it because it makes you very aware of your numbers when you're booking stuff into a spreadsheet you really know you don't have to look things up because you just know last week this much and i think it's quite good to go through that experience but but the downside of a lot of things is you know you can get quite involved with it and it's quite quite hard to let go and then i'm not sure if delegation's right but hand that responsibility over to somebody else you feel very attached to it but it's so important because the experts can do things far quicker and more efficient than we can and we can focus on other parts of our business but when money's tight when we're starting out it's kind of you know it's tempting to do everything because it it's our time so it's not costing us any external money but sometimes it can be more expensive because you know an hour of spending doing bookkeeping could be an hour doing business development at least absolutely yes yes but it's hard and a great great book i can recommend for this is the 80 20 sales and marketing now that rings a bell i think it's i don't know if you've ever heard of it i i'm sorry i forgot the the name of the author at the moment but i absolutely understand what you mean because it's exactly the same with many areas because i know it's for people hard to imagine but i don't do my own booking thing anymore right my my team do so obviously i'm not that you know i have to also everyone to look at the reports to realize realize and find out where i am financially i don't do it myself anymore either so i in a way i outsource that part but like you said it's very difficult because you um it's about especially for people like i might be a little bit of a control freak i guess so i want to see everything and get involved in everything and but you need to learn to um to let that go a little bit and this is a great book that uh shows you maybe a certain framework on how to do it interesting that's that's i think because like and i've read a lot about a lot of the tasks that we do in our business sometimes they're not business specific like like for me bookkeeping accounting um but there are other peripheral tasks and i think it's been recognized that because we're all perfectionists and we're control freaks we're obsessed we want it right i think it's said that you know if you can get someone who does it 80 as you 80 as well as you do you're doing well that's quite uncomfortable well i want it 100 as good i don't know 80 is good but that's you know if we don't let go of that um we're never going to climb the ladder we're going to be held back aren't we if we don't sort of exactly exactly it's a journey many people millions of successful people have been on and it's uh but it's just yeah it can be just a simple decision say right okay i'm just gonna let go um and but you've got all these emotional strings pulling it well i wonder how to get one and what's you know it's it's just part of the part of evolution of our business isn't it i suppose um exactly plus
plus we you know we often um you know go into the areas or direct focus of the areas that are comfortable for us i think so for example for me if sales is not comfortable it's just something that is out of my comfort zone this is what i mean you know i will just uh naturally you know go into every day into tasks that just feel comfortable and maybe doing admin work sometimes it's just much better for us than promoting our business and i think this is a this is a problem that a lot of people have right instead of working on business development sales pr you know webinars being a guest on podcast for example things like that it is it takes people out of their comfort zone quite a bit so we naturally go into it every each morning and i do that myself for me doing my client work is it's probably the you know the way i i do how i do i really enjoy spending my time but is this good for my business no
i'll tell you that's a really that's a real important point you've made there because i'm as as you're speaking i'm thinking about my own experience and i know that i'll be there are things that the logical me knows that i should be focusing on but the emotion will be kind of oh i need to attend to this and i need to attend to this and that needs doing and i justify them that i justify them to myself but actually if i'm bruce lee and mercenary they are distracting me from what i should be doing um and i can stand back and i can recognize this i'm trying to be kind to myself but i recognize paul you know this is what you should be doing all right these tasks they need to be attended to but you keep attending to them and you're not ever attending to this and it's a danger i think a lot of people get caught up in the operational stuff and the things that they enjoy and shy away from the stuff that's going to actually bring the business in absolutely i think a lot of people are very guilty of that i've been on a few forums where in different words but that's the same that's a common scenario i think you know exactly very common because i think um you know no matter how good we are at what we do you could be the best at anything but if you can't find the customers what's the what's the point um exactly what's that what's the point i mean the priority is sales you know and it's maybe uh not very common to you know from finance people they they say enough priorities the finance but no actually priority is the sale sales come first and then obviously managing all that sales the revenue comes in that's and that's uh that's another it's really also equally important but really it all starts with sales money in the bank that's what we do money in the bank is absolutely what we all want it's what pays the staff pays for their bills and all the rest of it yes and this is also we're all working towards you know building something and financial freedom and so on right but it really ultimately it's sales which will then absolutely take us there so what would you say are the biggest challenges that business owners face in your area of work what would you say the biggest challenges are um i mean there's a few things that probably they come to me with and complain about um firstly it's about the you know we mentioned cash flow challenges and the whole idea of cash flow fluctuations and picking troughs and troughs every i think each business you know goes through um time with a time where suddenly you know they have a lot of customers and this business coming in and so on and so on and then obviously another month may be really quiet and they might not sign a client or customer for three or four months period for example so this is something that a lot of them find challenging to to manage and how to manage that another thing is that i think a lot of business owners they are they they fear that they live in a constant fear of running out of cash okay so um and even if they the business is doing well some were always at the back of the mind they i wonder if you know in two months or three months will they be able to pay their team will they be able to pay uh their bills you know have enough to support their family and so on so probably and this is quite you know and i understand this it's something that we're all dealing with and i hear a lot of that and obviously throughout the pandemic period that was even more and similarly now right because obviously we are in a period with increasing costs for example so that's all still again on people's mind quite a bit and i think and another thing is why is um is the cash versus profit so um i i still see that quite a bit where business owners come to me and say like you know we i made a profit and how is it that i have no cash in the bank or very little or more than i thought you know so that's that's another um another aspect that they're often struggling with and basically a way maybe of understanding how how this works um and this is you know what they would be asking about and maybe it's what their biggest pains are that's interesting because i am like was saying i read i read a lot of books i listened to a lot of books on audible and i listened to the um biography about elon musk which is very interesting and at one point he was down to his last million which sounds like a lot of money for some people but in the comments for him yeah well in in the context of what he was doing at the time exactly yeah that would a lot i think that was like a week's cash flow for the staff and all the expenses it was nothing so he was he so he went right down to the you know right down to the line but venture capital funding you know right up to the right up to the line and uh obviously that just all changed from there on in but it's something that i can relate to you know you see you see the bank balance going down and down and down and there's no nothing happening but then the universe delivers and something comes out of the blue unexpectedly something from the past that you weren't expecting and everything's okay again but it's um so how how would you best advise people to deal with those kind of challenges then i mean there is a few things that always everybody can take and to to do do and they are not necessarily very complicated but something that helps them take the control over that um and one of them that i recommend is to have cash flow forecast obviously i'm sure you understand this um because of the problem of business owners running their business out of just looking at the bank balance you know in their bank at this moment but cash flow forecast it will give you a give a good indication of what that balance can be within 90 years sorry 90 days for example in 90 days and um you know it's about maybe building just having something simple on paper spreadsheet and something that can al will allow you to plan for certain scenarios where you can input you know what happens if that money that much money comes in what happens if this client is 30 days late um i i run through the exercise like this with you know with actually practically every of my clients and they really appreciate it so every month even when they me when we meet and run through that exercise they can really they can see you know where they will be or what's what's the worst that can happen what's the best obviously what would happen as well and another thing is that obviously with the any cash flow issues something that can help you and you know help you and help you with getting some of that peace of mind is building a cash cash cash cushion this is what i can building an emergency fund is something that i can recommend to any business owner too because in the end even if you say oh i don't have really enough to put some money outside at the moment you need to plan and even if it's little by little you will be able to eventually build something but build that that fund at the you know the rainy day so or even this could be a fund that could be used for an opportunity because that's another way of looking at it right what if you know something comes along and maybe you need a little bit of money to invest and having three months worth of you know your expenses in the bank account can really help and give that that peace of mind that we are all looking for to be able to then again concentrate on our clients growing the business um and you know it takes us out of this panic mode yeah because that's very stressful that's very distracting because i think you know again i reflect on my own experience and i think we all you know i think all of us work at our best when we're when we're relaxed and we'll feel at peace with ourselves and we can focus on the work and concentrate what we're doing but if we're stressed and we're worried about paying the bills the subconscious is constantly nagging at us and you know you can't get to that really nice relaxed state of flow where you can really concentrate on the actual work that you're doing so it's nice to have that security that okay well you know you've got plenty of money there i can relax all the bills will be paid so yeah it's a good feeling it's a really good idea it makes good sense yes i absolutely recommend it it's um it's just getting there isn't it i suppose for people that started yes yes yes but again it's planning for it i think you know it's it's like it's setting this up as one of your goals one of your targets and then you know building maybe a simple plan on how this can be achieved um and then and then it can be achieved yes it's uh i think the old saying is if you fail to plan then you plan to fail that kind of yeah you may not always achieve what you have what you're aiming for but you've got to have something to aim for otherwise it's you know you're just running blind aren't you really exactly exactly okay so finally i give you so thanks no thanks for the interview today i really appreciate it it's been some really interesting feedback from you here but how how will people be able to get in touch with you what's the best way uh the best way to get in touch with me is via linkedin uh agnieszka vozhikovska and i will obviously have the links available for you paul to put on the webs on the page and all also on facebook facebook as well on facebook i'm with aggie with your host so that people can find me a bit more easily also always a great great idea is to check out my website cfo for growth.com fantastic that's been brilliant well aggie thank you very much for your time it's been really easy thank you for having me pleasure i've learned a few tips myself there so thank you for those as well um i hope the audience appreciate this and um i look forward to speaking to you again in the future thank you thank you thanks it's been great paul thank you