Do you have a visceral negative reaction to the word “Profit”? Do all the stories of companies who maximize profit at the expense of quality, or people or the environment give you an icky feeling when you think about making profit in your own company?
Let’s get real. You have to get over it. Don’t let the negative stories about what other companies do block your pursuit of owning and running a profitable business. It’s your choice how you are going to run your company. The vast majority of companies are run ethically and responsibly. Be one of them, and feel good about it.
As we move from the Sales level to the Profit level on the Business Hierarchy of Needs (BHN), it’s important to have a clear understanding of what Profit is, and what it isn’t.
Here’s how Profit First and Fix This Next author Mike Michalowicz defines Profit:
“Cold hard cash that the shareholder(s) (the owner or owners of the business) can use for themselves in any way they want, such that using it will not negatively impact the continued healthy operations of the business.”
My definition of Profit is: “Your reward for a business well run.”
As the owner of your business, you are the primary investor and shareholder. You have taken the risk to own and operate a business. The risk is failure, and a lot (most) small businesses do. The reward for your investment into your company is your company giving back to you in the form of Profit. This is not greedy, it is fair. 100%.
Notice I wrote giving back to you. As in you the business owner(s). To do what you want with it, outside the business. Save it, spend it, bury it. Your choice. It’s your money. There is an important distinction to be made here; you cannot “reinvest profit back into the business”. It’s either profit or it’s an expense. Once you spend cash the business has earned for business purposes it is an expense. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that if you choose to do so. But it’s not profit. Faking your margins to feel good is not cool.
“Ok, Ok” you say, “what’s the big deal? Who cares if I call it profit, expense, or blue cheese? It’s my money after all”.
It makes a difference in a couple ways.
First, profit is a habit. When you get used to taking and distributing profits it is an amazing way to operate your business. On the other hand, if you keep trying to “create” profit with more and more sales, it almost never happens. Why? Because spending is also a habit. And if you can’t curb the (over)spending habit, you can never be permanently profitable.
The second reason taking profit regularly is so important has everything to do with the value of the company you are building. The reality is your company is probably not going to be acquired at an outrageous price by some tech or dot com investor. If you want to build a company that endures and has value to someone else, you have to demonstrate, on your P&L’s and Balance Sheet, that you have a history of being profitable. This is what my business broker called “Benefit To Owner”. In other words, when someone buys your business, they want to know what their immediate potential earnings will be. When we sold one of our gyms for top dollar, it was because we had demonstrated over a number of years a high benefit to the owner. We ran a profitable business, and when we were ready to sell, it netted us more money.
Even if you have no plans to sell anytime soon, you need to have this on your radar now. Some of the best advice I ever got was from Nick Berry of Fitness Revolution who told me; “You need to be ready to sell your business way before you want out.” Exactly right.
Work on building a “Profit Mindset”. Get rid of the trash in your head that says profit = greed. If you want a business that you truly enjoy and make the impact on the world you want it to, you have to be profitable.
Next time we will dig into Need #1 on the Profit level of the BHN, and discover what you need to do next to build your own profitable company.