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Think Like A CFO Podcast

Author: Melissa Houston

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The Think Like a CFO Podcast is devoted to helping women entrepreneurs master their finances and launch, grow, and scale their businesses. Simple, digestible, actionable advice from Melissa Houston, an accredited CPA with over 20 years of experience. Real business owners, real talk, real solutions.
23 Episodes
“Accountants are there to offer strategic advice as well, because they’re strategic thinkers… they can give you feedback on pretty much anything.”—  Melissa HoustonWhen you’re busy trying to build your business, the last thing you need to do is get too caught up in the numbers. While I absolutely believe that ALL business owners should know their numbers and be familiar with their balance sheets, I also believe that business owners should focus on their zones of genius and let the deeper tracking and calculations be handled by professionals.Knowing your numbers is important, but chances are you are not a trained accountant or bookkeeper — and the skills and knowledge of these professionals can make a huge difference in helping your business run smoothly.In this episode, I explain the specific roles of bookkeepers, accountants, and tax accountants — when you need them, what they dor, and how to best take advantage of the services they offer.Financial professionals keep you in line as you grow your business. Having someone beside you to guide you into making informed financial decisions is priceless.I’ve found that many of my clients are unsure about the differences between these professions, and that is totally okay! After listening to this episode, you’ll know everything you need to know in order to determine which options are right for your business — and how to hire the best fit.In‌ ‌this‌ ‌episode,‌ ‌you’ll discover:‌ ‌What a virtual CFO does and whether this option makes sense for your businessThe difference between regular accountants and tax accountants — and whether you need to work with bothMy best tips for finding and hiring a great tax accountant — and what you need to keep in mindHighlights:‌ ‌01:25  What does a bookkeeper do?02:34  How often should you work with your accountant?03:03  Virtual CFOs04:02  Setting your budget06:25  Certified Professional Accountant qualifications08:12  Why use a tax accountant?10:09  The benefits of using a tax accountant11:45  Finding & hiring a good tax accountant16:55  Benefits recap19:31  Fee structuresLinks:‌ ‌The 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me Want more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest 
“What you bring to the table in your business is exactly what you would bring to the table in your book.”—  Jenna KalinskyHave you ever thought about writing a book?Entrepreneurs have been writing and publishing more books than ever, and with good reason — writing a book can cement your reputation as a respected expert.This can have many tangible benefits. If the book is good, you’ll immediately boost your credibility and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. This can lead to speaking opportunities, the chance to land your own column, and an enhanced ability to land more (and more influential) clients.My guest for this episode, Jenna Kalinsky, is a published author and book editor. She helps entrepreneurs translate their most brilliant business ideas into well-organized, readable books.Jenna believes in the amazing power of the written (and published) word.“The minute you tell people you’ve written a book and you’re a published author, they look at you differently,” Jenna says. “It’s not easy to write a book, but when you make the time and take the effort in order to do it and do a good job of it, it’s the kind of thing that outlasts your daily work… and having a book 100% enhances everything you do.”In‌ ‌this‌ ‌episode,‌ ‌you’ll discover:‌ ‌What will make you stand out in a marketplace full of books by other entrepreneursThe positives and negatives of the traditional, independent, and self-publishing options — and how to decide what will work best for youHow to deal with the vulnerability of putting your words out into the world About Jenna KalinskyJenna Kalinsky is the founder of One Lit Place, full-service writers' centre that provides writing, coaching, and copy editing services, online writing courses, and a secure online Writers Lounge where writers meet, chat, and share ideas at any time, and from anywhere. Her fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have been published in books and magazines.Highlights:‌ ‌02:35  Introducing Jenna Kalinsky04:29  Entrepreneurship & authorship07:03  What sets you apart?09:23  Dealing with vulnerability11:44  Why you need an editor14:47  How to write a book in 4 months18:31  Self-publishing v. traditional v. independent  21:43  Working with Jenna23:59  What makes a good business book?25:03  Jenna’s most valuable tipLinks:‌ ‌One Lit Place contact@onelitplace.com647.812.6107Business book planning worksheet Book - 4 Months Book Weekly Program 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
“Most people feel a lot of shame and embarrassment around carrying debt… and instead of asking for help, they stew in that shame and embarrassment and the situation just worsens.”—  Melissa HoustonIn this episode, I’m sharing a very personal story.I’m a financial expert and a CPA, and have been for over 20 years. I write two columns on how to deal with your finances. I work with numbers every day. If anyone should have a grasp on how to maintain healthy finances, it should be me.Yet, I wound up $100,000 in debt over the course of just 12 months.I am here to tell you: it can happen to anyone.And until you understand the reasons behind your spending, it will be difficult to pull yourself out of that hole.Carrying debt holds a lot of stigma, despite the fact that so many people do. In fact, debt levels today are higher than they’ve ever been — and continue to increase!People are afraid to talk about it, and don’t want to admit that they don’t truly understand their finances and that they need help. Of course, this only makes the problem worse.I’m sharing my story because if it can help even one listener feel less ashamed and alone in their struggle, and help them gather the strength they need to climb out of debt, then that is worth more than anything to me.When you’re set up for financial success, not only are you on your way to making a million bucks, but you’ll feel like a million bucks, too!In‌ ‌this‌ ‌episode,‌ ‌you’ll discover:‌ ‌Where and when we learn our beliefs and emotional responses to moneyThe reasons behind my 12-month fall into $100,000 debt — and how spending didn’t lead to real happinessThe psychological benefits of uncovering and living your true purpose  Highlights:‌ ‌01:22  Why I’m telling my story02:21  Why do we carry so much debt?03:59  How I fell into debt07:41  Facing the consequences10:07  Discovering the “why” — and fixing it13:07  Live your true purpose18:29  Money is emotionally charged19:57  I understand what it’s likeLinks:‌ ‌The 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me Want more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
“A bookkeeper is the first line of a company’s finance team.”—  Melissa HoustonOne of the most common questions I’m asked is: how do I find the right bookkeeper for my business?Another common question: what exactly will having a bookkeeper DO for my business?Many entrepreneurs make the decision to keep their books themselves, but I believe that working with a skilled bookkeeper is invaluable — particularly as you grow and scale.Business owners often hesitate to take on the expense of hiring a bookkeeper, but the truth is that having accurate, well-kept books will SAVE you money at the end of the year.If your books are incomplete, inaccurate, or disorganized, your tax accountant will need to spend time fixing your numbers.Let me tell you, these corrections will cost you far more money than paying a skilled bookkeeper would!Not only are you paying a tax accountant their expensive hourly fee to correct these errors, but it takes much longer to repair your books than it would to input your numbers accurately the first time.Bookkeepers have the knowledge of how each transaction should be recorded and understand the generally accepted accounting principles (also known as GAAP). Skilled bookkeepers know how to deal with industry-specific transactions. Remember, this is their zone of genius, and having them take care of the numbers allows you to focus on your own zone of genius — building up your business!Finding a great bookkeeper is a challenge, but in this episode I share all the information you need to make the right choice for your business! In‌ ‌this‌ ‌episode,‌ ‌you’ll discover:‌ ‌Questions to ask yourself before you look for a bookkeeper— and questions to ask them during the hiring processWhat to keep in mind when deciding whether to hire a self-employed bookkeeper or work with a bookkeeping firmHow to set key dates, organize timelines, and communicate expectations clearlyHighlights:‌ ‌01:29  The cost of bookkeeper errors02:49  Keep an audit trail03:27  Why hire a bookkeeper?05:11  Sound you DIY?05:32  Hire your perfect bookkeeper07:38  Key dates08:13  Top hiring tips09:29  The power of referrals10:53  The interview process & your requirements12:56  Service example14:13  Communicating expectations15:48  How are you protected?16:27  Bookkeeper pricing16:51  Final thoughts ‌Links:‌ ‌The 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
Are you a boomer in the process of selling your home? Or a family member helping an elderly parent downsize and transition into a new chapter of their life?Then this episode is for you!My guest Vivien Sharon is a real estate professional and the author of The Boomer's 7‑Step Guide to Downsizing: Overcoming Fear & Discovering Freedom, which shares key strategies and methods for transitioning to a joyful, downsized life.50% of Vivien’s business today is the boomer and senior market. As a highly-trained transition specialist, she understands that most of her clients are fearful of change — and aren't sure where or how to begin.Luckily, Vivien has literally written the book on this!Houses owned by people aged 55+ often have special needs in terms of decluttering. The family home is often overwhelmed by clutter, with basements and offices being particular hot spots. Old clothing, children’s toys, and paperwork are just a few of the things that tend to build up, and this type of clutter makes it a lot harder to impress prospective buyers. Often, these homes could also use a refresh in terms of flooring, fixtures, or cabinets, if the owners haven’t already updated it. (This can greatly affect a home’s value and ability to sell at its asking price.)There are three different levels of staging to choose from when preparing for viewings, and the level chosen can have a big effect on the home’s perceived value.If you’re interested in learning more about pricing, marketing, and showing your home (as well as what fees to budget for), Vivien is sharing everything you need to know!In this episode, we’ll also explore:The 3 different types of staging & how much value staging your home can potentially add to a saleThe current state of real estate in the pandemic era — what is hot and what isn’tWhether spring is still the best time to list your home for saleAbout Vivien SharonVivien Sharon is a real estate professional and the author of the free e-book The Boomer's 7‑Step Guide to Downsizing: Overcoming Fear & Discovering Freedom, which shares key strategies and methods for transitioning to a joyful, downsized life.Highlights:00:43  Introducing Vivien Sharon  03:23  Downsizing when 55+06:03  First steps07:53  Senior real estate specialization 10:31  To stage or not to stage?14:28  The current state of the market17:01  Breaking down decluttering18:33  Navigating the fear of change20:44  The importance of pricing & marketing23:56  Costs to expect24:55  How many months of lead time needed?26:04  The best time to list a home27:05  Vivien’s experience30:28  Vivien’s big takeawayLinks:Vivien Sharonhttps://www.viviensharon.comThe Boomer's 7‑Step Guide to Downsizing: Overcoming Fear & Discovering Freedom 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
Increasing your revenue is great, but it shouldn’t be your only goal. Not by a long shot!Planning ahead and finding ways to reduce expenses are just as important.My guest Eowyn Levene is a money coach and the host of the Creatives Do Money podcast. She’s found that many of her clients come to her with the idea that her coaching is all about helping them make more money.They soon realize that business finances are about so much more than increasing revenue.Often, they can tap into unexpected levels of financial freedom — without earning a single dollar more in revenue!It’s so important to figure out how to manage your finances at the beginning of your business journey, because guess what? Money problems scale. Doubling your revenue won’t solve your budgeting issues. You may find that, as you grow, so do your money leaks. This means that you’ll be making far less profit than you think!So, how do we spend less money?Many businesses go overboard with marketing expenses, targeting too large an audience rather than honing in on their ideal targets. Remember, there are a lot of ways that you can market your business without spending a lot of money!Start-up costs are another issue that pops up as we embark upon our entrepreneurial journey. Many entrepreneurs tend to rack up credit card debt investing in different platforms, programs, leases, coaches, subscriptions, or supplies. Seductive marketing messages can convince us that we absolutely need the latest workshop, incubator, or technology to run our business successfully, but often these offerings lead to unnecessary debt. It’s important to really weigh the benefits when making these kinds of decisions — and planning ahead is incredibly important. In this episode, we’ll explore:How to figure out which start-up costs are necessaryThe most common emotional blocks when it comes to managing moneyEffective marketing techniques that don’t a lot of money About Eowyn LeveneEowyn Levene is a money coach at Plum Tree Money and the host of the Creatives Do Money podcast. She helps creatives, artists, and healers master their money . She is also the owner and sole practitioner at Living Link Massage Therapy, an independent studio.Highlights:00:42  Introducing Eowyn Levene05:31  Financial literacy & self-employed creatives09:12  It’s about more than just making more money10:27  Money & emotions11:16  Eowyn’s biggest client transformations12:08  Money management problems scale13:15  Common money mismanagement habits14:47  Staying present while undergoing challenges16:09  Eowyn’s biggest money lesson18:34  The perils of start-up spending21:00  Marketing without spend22:43  Eowyn’s takeawayLinks:Plum Tree Money / Creatives Do Money podcasthttps://plumtreemoney.comLiving Link Massage Therapyhttps://livinglinkmassagetherapy.comThe 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
“Financial mismanagement is probably the #1 money leak in your business.”— Melissa HoustonI always say, money is one of the most emotional things in the world. And for an entrepreneur, one of the strongest emotions connected to money is stress.My 4-step CFO Money Method Framework is a great way to dive into better understanding your business finances, keeping track of your cash flow, and learning how to develop an effective budget. In this episode, I’ll be breaking down each step — and they’re far less intimidating than you think!Many entrepreneurs launch their businesses without knowing how to manage their finances. Unfortunately, financial literacy simply isn’t something that most people are taught unless they go to school for accounting or to earn their MBA.But if you don’t know how to manage your business finances, you’ll have trouble figuring out how much profit (not revenue) you are earning. You’ll have difficulty identifying and plugging money leaks. And you’ll be less able to make needed changes in your business at the time that they’d be most effective.Once you’ve gained financial literacy and learn how to keep your finances in order, you’ll feel a weight lift. Many of my clients have told me that they’ve started sleeping better, are better able to focus, and feel more happy and confident about their business.Understanding your business finances allows you to set goals for your business that you may not have otherwise thought possible, discover new money-saving opportunities, and focus on boosting your profits.“It’s never too late to plan your budget.”— Melissa HoustonIn this episode, we’ll explore:The 4 main reasons to understand, monitor, and manage your business financesThe 3 most common business finance mistakes entrepreneurs makeThe 4 steps of my CFO Money Method FrameworkHighlights:01:19  Case study: Karen, high six-figure revenue03:07  The importance of financial management06:10  Common business finance mistakes08:11  The CFO Money Method Framework11:54  Never too late to budget13:53  Cash flow and cash reserves15:20  Case study: Karen’s results16:29  My new free training & program registrationLinks:Register for the free training on January 19thThe 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
When you’re an entrepreneur, financial literacy is everything. The difference between figuring it out as you go and working from a place of knowledge and support is like night and day.My guest for this episode, Emily Milling, knows that all too well. Emily’s podcast production agency, The Ultimate Creative, helps entrepreneurs launch amazing, professional podcasts that support their business goals. Without her, you wouldn’t be listening to Think Like a CFO!But Emily isn’t just my podcast producer, she’s also my client. Emily’s entrepreneurial journey has taken her from solo entrepreneur to incorporation to partnership to running her business alone again. Along the way, she had to learn how to navigate the tricky and often confusing corporate tax system, dissolve a business partnership, and deal with surprise tax bills.When I started working with Emily, she felt unsure about her finances and was held back by limiting beliefs about her capability. Since then, Emily has upgraded her financial literacy and learned how to organize a fluid budget that lets her tweak her promotions and offerings in real time in order to keep her revenue in line with her needs and goals.This episode is an honest and heartfelt look at the challenges of entrepreneurship — and we touch on a number of very important financial topics along the way, including hiring the right financial professionals, how to build a flexible budget, and the importance of long-term planning.“If you want your business to be successful, if you’re really dedicated to it and you want to make it happen, you really need to be in the trenches with your money and figuring this stuff out.”— Emily MillingIn this episode, we’ll explore:The unique challenges of entrepreneurship, from incorporation to taxesHow to plan out a fluid business budget that allows you to adjust and react to what life is throwing at your businessThe huge financial consequences of choosing the wrong bookkeeper or accountant — and how to pick the right one Highlights:00:43  Introducing Emily Milling03:21  The Ultimate Creative story05:47  The importance of community07:30  Entrepreneurship challenges08:59  Navigating the tax maze12:26  Building your financial skill set & budget15:08  Choosing the right bookkeeper or accountant19:00  Creating & following a business budget23:02  Tax planning25:19  Letting go of limiting beliefs27:57  Financial literacy builds confidence30:03  Future planning31:38  Emily’s final takeawayLinks:Work with The Ultimate Creativehttps://theultimatecreative.comInstagram: @the_ultimatecreative  Ultimate Podcast Marketing podcast Chick Energyhttps://bigchickenergysketch.comThe 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me training sign up pageWant more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
“I really believe in building those strong relationships with other women … to help each other achieve their goals. There’s enough room for everyone at the top.”— Melissa Houston2020 may just be the year of the female entrepreneur.2020’s recession has hit women harder, with 55% of job losses found in sectors with largely female workforces, including travel, education, health services, and retail. Women are also being hired less during the pandemic, with hiring rates dropping from 47% to 45%.Women learning that they need to build their own financial safety nets.Entrepreneurship comes with a lot of bonuses — you can create your own schedule and advance your career at your own pace, rather than waiting for others to recognize your talent and promote you. But it can also be demanding and come with its own unique challenges — many of them emotional.The truth is that many entrepreneurs jump into business without considering their limiting beliefs, and these limiting beliefs can drastically affect the level of success that you will reach in your business.While women in business do face a number of major challenges, including limited access to funding, balancing work and domestic demands, fear of failure, lack of support system and mentors, a lack of confidence, they’re also likely to fall victim to a number of money mindset issues.Women are more likely to believe that they’re “charging too much” or that they are not worth their fees. They’re more likely to believe that making money should be hard. They’re more likely to self-sabotage or feel guilty about making more than their friends, family, or partners.Business ownership doesn’t need to be this hard! The key is recognizing the mindset issues that are affecting you, overcoming them, and letting yourself experience the success that you deserve!“No one person can achieve success on their own. It takes the help of others. So, ask for that help.”— Melissa HoustonIn this episode, we’ll explore:Three money mindset issues that you must work through in order to reach your full potential as an entrepreneurThe unique financial, logistical, and emotional challenges that female entrepreneurs face The top two skills to invest in when you’re starting a business (or looking to grow)Highlights:00:44  Happy New Year (let’s hope!)01:56  7-figure v. 6-figure03:12  The limiting thoughts holding you back05:05  Support is necessary06:14  Female work and recession statistics10:10  Why go into business for yourself?11:40  Money mindset issues17:30  Major challenges women in business face20:26  Never fear failure22:28  Build your support system25:13  Confidence!28:22 The top two skills to invest inLinks:The CFO Money Method Membership ProgramThe 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
“They’re often linked together, pain in our body and pain in our life.”— Janis IsamanHow you work impacts not only your business, but your health. Are you focusing on the right things?My guest, Janis Isaman, is the founder of My Body Couture, a one-on-one private studio where she offers customized movement and nutrition coaching. Certified in both business and nutrition, Janis has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Prevention, and Women’s Health.As an entrepreneur and solo parent, Janis has a wealth of knowledge to share about assessing risks, managing burnout, and prioritizing what really matters.Janis’s earliest entrepreneurial lessons came from her parents, who were farmers. In addition to modelling hard work and dedication, they taught her to always lay a foundation of savings to use for years when the metaphorical (or literal) crop is hailed out. She also learned to invest in herself, and has done so through her many trainings and certifications. And some of her most challenging lessons have come from her position as a lone parent who is also an entrepreneur. Managing burnout is a key consideration — something that Janis has learned firsthand. Burnout is mental and physical, and can take you out of the game completely if you ignore it for too long. “It’s easier to stop for three weeks than it is to have to recover for three years,” Janis advises.Her most fruitful lesson, and the one she’s most excited to share, is the importance of prioritization. Janis’s incredible ‘abundance audit’ exercise has helped her to pare down the things in her life that offer zero or negative value, and focus instead on maximizing emotional return.Listen to the episode and learn how to perform your own abundance audit!“The things that you really, really want typically have more value to you than they cost. The things that you really don’t care about often cost more than you value them.”— Janis IsamanIn this episode, we’ll explore:Why burnout can have a serious impact on your business (and body)How to perform an ‘abundance audit’ on your lifeWhy it is so vital to invest in yourself Highlights:00:45  Introducing Janis Isaman02:58  Money, stress, and psychosomatic pain05:28  Taking a leap of faith08:53  What we learn in childhood12:30  Always lay a foundation of savings14:13  Facing challenges15:52  Burnout is a business killer18:32  The ‘abundance audit’23:00  Your top three valuable expenses27:13  The abundance calculation28:49  Misperceptions of single parenthood32:58  Janis’s biggest takeaways 35:19  Find JanisLinks:My Body Couture 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
“Having money management skills can be — and is — empowering.”  - Melissa HoustonAre you making one of the top five major money mistakes in your business?It can be easy to make money management missteps, as many entrepreneurs — even the most passionate or seemingly successful — often have not learned the basics of business money management. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s easy to fix.Even the most skilled and educated professional can feel like a failure if they don’t understand their numbers — after all, knowing how to expertly serve your clients is an entirely different skill set from being able to understand and manage your finances!We all make mistakes, but they can offer us some of the best opportunities for growth.While working with my clients, I’ve pinpointed a number of common mistakes made by business owners that can completely drain their profitability... regardless of how many sales they make.MISTAKE #1: Not Tracking Your Revenue and ExpensesIf you aren’t keeping a close eye on these numbers, then you have no idea whether your business is actually profitable. Revenue alone doesn’t tell that story — your revenue minus your expenses equals your profit. When you ignore your numbers, you put your business at risk — you need to identify problems and create solutions.MISTAKE #2: Allowing Money LeaksOnce you’ve identified all of your expenses, look for the money leaks that are draining your business of cash without providing value or ROI. Plugging money leaks can save you hundreds, thousands, or even more per year.Want to learn the rest of the five major money mistakes — and how to remedy them? Listen to the episode!“When you build a confident relationship with money and you feel like you are unstoppable, like you can do anything in your business… now that is a feeling to strive for.” - Melissa HoustonIn this episode, we’ll explore:Five major money mistakes to avoid in your business The very best time to apply for financing from your bank Three different types of metrics that you should be tracking on a regular basisHighlights:00:43  We all make mistakes — but it’s okay02:02  We can all be financial badasses04:30  Your business finances are key05:10  Case study: Kate07:24  How do you know if you’re profitable?09:27  Expense management10:38  Never run out of cash!12:07  Stay loan-friendly13:13  Financially-uninformed decisions16:26  Two courses to get you on the road to financial masteryLinks:The 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
The holiday season in 2020 is a little different. Fewer parties, smaller gatherings, less extravagant gifts… but the season of giving more important than ever.As we reflect on the true meaning of the holidays, I urge you, as a business owner, to think about charitable giving. In addition to being the right thing to do, there are a surprising number of tangible and intangible benefits that come along with supporting your community.The act of giving benefits not only the recipient, but the giver as well — giving grants us a feeling of connectedness and the satisfaction of trying to make the world a better place (or at least one small corner). But this warm and fuzzy feeling is only the tip of the iceberg. Charities and nonprofits often publicize donations given by businesses on their websites and in published literature, serving as incredibly good publicity. Supporting the volunteer groups and nonprofits working for good in your community will help to raise your profile and build a larger customer base, as many people (including myself) choose to support businesses that make an effort to give back.If your profit margins are slim but you still want to support your community, volunteering at events is a great way to network with complementary businesses and community leaders, as well as meet potential customers. This is just one of the many non-monetary options that I share in this episode!As a successful member of your community, you have the resources to help the less fortunate. And this extends beyond the holiday season. Consistent giving keeps your business at the forefront of community consciousness, continuously building goodwill and loyalty. And there is no better time to start than now!“Chances are, you’ve been given gifts, opportunities, and help along the way. I encourage you to pay it forward.”— Melissa HoustonIn this episode, we’ll explore:The tangible and intangible benefits to charitable giving (both financial and personal)The countless ways that you can support your community without impacting your bottom line Six important reasons for your business to give back often and generouslyHighlights:00:46  Gratitude02:19  The season of giving in 202003:40  Why give back as a business?06:50  Beyond writing a cheque09:40  How giving benefits you12:17  Six reasons to give back19:10  Spread the loveLinks:The 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
Money and Minimalism

Money and Minimalism


“I take care of our finances so, at that moment, it just felt like it was all on me. Like I had let my family down.” - Anik TracyTo downsize or not to downsize?This question may not be what Shakespeare had in mind, but it’s a question that is on the minds of many people during this current economic moment, from up-and-coming professionals to families to older retirees. And it’s a question that my guest for this episode, Anik Tracy, has recently answered for herself — to great success. Anik and her husband, Justin, recently sold their house, stripped away their debt, and moved into a smaller space with their two beautiful teenage boys. The family is now living life on their own terms, free of stressful debt.It worked for them, but will it work for you?Anik and her husband followed the conventional route of home ownership, moving from a townhouse to a single home to a larger property in a more affluent area (complete with necessary renovations and remodels), but discovered that this path caused them some financial difficulties. “When we were in our 30s, we thought we had all the time in the world to pay this mortgage off,” Anik explains. “But then when you get in your 40s, the amortization period no longer coincides with when you plan on retiring, so that gives you pause.”While many people experience these exact same issues, embarrassment and shame causes them to avoid talking openly about it and getting the advice they need in order to climb out of their debt and build more satisfying and sustainable lives.So, today, we are going to talk about it!“You’re not alone with your debt levels.” - Melissa HoustonIn this episode, we’ll explore:How to recognize when your current home is no longer serving you financiallyWhy pride and other people’s opinions should NOT play a role in your financial decisions and the freedom of no longer caringThe #1 sneaky trick that banks play on you when you apply for a mortgage — and how to avoid falling for itHighlights:00:44  Introducing Anik Tracy03:47  Anik’s home ownership journey and its downside05:22  Financing pitfalls and frugal triumphs07:17  Self-improvement book recommendations08:10  The warning signs that your home may be hurting you financially09:27  Is refinancing (again) the right call? Or is there another way?12:46  “If you keep doing what you’re doing, where will you be in five years?”13:31  Don’t let the opinions of others influence your financial decisions14:48  The freedom of minimalism20:24  How to choose a better mortgage22:18  How it feels on the other side of downsizing25:59  Anik’s #1 takeawayLinks:The 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
“Money management is the key to building your wealth.” - Melissa HoustonWhat is wealth?Wealth is an abstract concept that holds different meanings for different people.The dictionary calls it “an abundance of valuable possessions or money.” Some people say that while rich people have money, a wealthy person’s money is sustainable. It’s also been defined as “the ability to survive a certain number of days forward.”People have a lot of ideas about what wealth means! And while I value intangible wealth — being rich in things such as gratitude, love, friendship, happiness — I want to help you grow and nurture your monetary wealth, so that you can focus on those intangible riches without having to worry about your bank balance and budget.Wealth is about more than just your salary or bonuses or the value of your home. It’s in how you manage your money — and how you spend it. You can’t judge a person’s level of wealth based on the number of shiny, luxury possessions they own, or even their yearly income. There are many things that will affect your ‘real’ level of wealth, including lifestyle inflation or creep, poor investments, your level of debt, your expenses, and wealth showmanship.Millionaires like to own assets, not debt. And this podcast episode is all about getting into that millionaire mindset!“The most surprising millionaires are the ones who don’t have a lot of flashy purchases and don’t look the part of being wealthy. Because what they’ve done is invested their money and gotten their money to work for them.” - Melissa HoustonIn this episode, we’ll explore:What a big salary bump really means pay period to pay period — and how quickly you can negate it without realizingThe formula to calculate your personal total net worth — and two reasons to figure it out today The top pitfalls that people fall into when they start making more money and how to avoid themHighlights:01:00  What does ‘wealth’ mean? 03:35  We find our strength and story in hard challenges04:48  Money alone doesn’t change who you are06:00  You got a big raise — now what?10:02  Money management determines your wealth11:02  How to calculate your personal net worth12:08  Why the showmanship of wealth doesn’t matter14:25  Cultivate your millionaire mindset16:43  Two very good reasons to know your personal net worth17:00  4 motivating factors to get you started!Links:Debt.org 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
“Quite frankly, the world of finance is like a second language. I mean, I didn’t understand anything.” - FionaPersonal finance can be incredibly daunting, but understanding your numbers can yield amazing results. My guest for this episode is The Millennial Money Woman, also known as Fiona. She’s nurtured a passion for finance since her preteen years — while she knew that she loved the idea of money management, she didn’t quite have the grasp on it that she wanted, as financial literacy is something that we need to deliberately seek out in our society. And seek it out she did!After graduating with a Masters of Science in personal financial planning (as the only woman in her program), she is now the certified financial planner behind the The Millennial Money Woman website, dedicated to helping young professionals live abundant lives by making the right financial decisions now. She’s also the co-founder of a non-profit that teaches millennials financial literacy.“Let’s be real here — money is really one of the few things that makes the world go round,” Fiona says. “If you really don’t know that much about money … there’s a problem! Because there’s so much more possibility and opportunity out there for you to make a better life!” Fiona is living proof — she bought her first house at the age of 23 and is on track to hit millionaire status in a few years. She wants her readers to achieve similar results, and I’m right there with her!In this episode, she and I discuss the difference between earning wealth and managing it. You could have a $300,000/year income … and still be broke. As Fiona advises, “You earn wealth by retaining money, not by just earning it.” There are many ways to manage your money, and we break down a number of them through a hypothetical scenario involving a $1000 windfall. What would you do if you were handed $1000 right now? If you’re not sure, don’t worry. After this episode, you’ll have some fantastic ideas!“If you’re not managing your money properly, you could be bringing in all the money in the world, but you could still be broke.” - Melissa HoustonIn this episode, we’ll explore:How to decide between saving and investing (based on your own personal situation)Exactly what you can do with $1000 to maximize your returnYour primary options for investment, and the pros and cons of each — a great primer for beginners!Highlights:00:44  Introducing Fiona03:35  The world of finance is male-dominated — but shouldn’t be!04:51  Managing money is as important as making it06:10  You must go out of your way to become financially literate07:11  America v Canada: student loan debt08:04  Make finance fun with The Millennial Money Woman  10:39  Personal finance is personal, so understand your scenario11:06  What should YOU do with $1000? 13:04  Your savings fund rule of thumb15:11  Two ways to invest20:10  The joys of index funds24:20  The ‘Set It & Forget It’ mindset26:27  Become a millionaire on less than $10 a day31:20  Fiona’s #1 takeawayLinks:The Millennial Money Woman 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
“We don’t know what works — we’re in a pandemic! Everything we thought we knew, doesn’t. And everything that didn’t work, now does.” - Sondra DiggsAs the pandemic economy trudges on, many businesses have been forced to rethink, reprioritize, and rework — but some have carved out space to thrive. My guest for this episode, Sondra Diggs, is a self-titled ‘girlfriend relationship advocate’ who has designed her business around the idea that female relationships are a powerful form of support that should be nurtured. Sondra is the creator of Girlfriend Therapy in a Box and the CEO of Glitter Me This & Co, a service that offers incredible curated boxes designed around themes such as ‘Bad Ass BFF’, ‘Breakup’, and ‘Beginnings’, and contain items such as sangria-infused marshmallows and witty keychains. A former corporate CFO and CPA with 25 years experience, she now devotes herself to helping Gen X women nurture their supportive female friendships through the struggles of navigating middle age — and now, also the struggle of our socially distanced times!Injecting joyfulness and personality into the mundane is one of Sondra’s specialties, and one of the biggest reasons why her business has taken off. After redefining the corporate 9-5 image with her effervescence, she’s channelled her personality into her new brand, with great success. As she says, her approach to life boils down to “more sparkles, less anxiety,” and this is an approach which resonates with her online audience. Sondra deeply understands the importance of social media to modern businesses — and the challenges in growing an audience. “When you get into the social media world, it’s a different world,” she says. “It just doesn’t open up like that. It takes grinding and, more importantly, it takes consistency.” Grab a pen and a notebook, you’ll want to jot down some of Sondra’s insights and apply them to your own social strategy!“I kept saying to myself ‘When am I the happiest?’ … you know that question, ‘If it wasn’t for money, what would you do’? For me, it was ‘What would I do if I was the happiest?” - Sondra DiggsIn this episode, we’ll explore:The importance of true passion and enthusiasm in developing your business planHow the social media revolution has dramatically transformed the acts of both selling AND buying and what this means for your brandHow to create meaningful connections with your audience — and build amazing loyaltyHighlights:00:46  Introducing Sondra Diggs 02:42  Why she created Girlfriend Therapy in a Box05:39  Know your target audience & niche06:29  ‘Pivot’ is the theme of 2020!07:00  Surviving the start-up08:52  Adjust to grow in a Covid-19 world13:05  Attitude is everything!16:55  Build an empire from your passion!21:11  People buy your personality now, not just your product22:55  Sondra’s 2020 holiday surprises27:46  Sondra’s top financial lessons for start-ups31:49  Coupon code for Think Like a CFO listeners!Links:Glitter Me This & Co The 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website: https://www.melissahou
“If you are so far from your vision, it can be very overwhelming to think of something so big.”- Maria TanWhen you’re heading out on a journey to an unknown place, one of the most important things you can have with you is a map. That’s no less true when you’re starting a business.So, let’s work on your cartography skills.My guest for this episode, Maria, Tan has been described as a ‘business coach for misfits’ who empowers non-conformists across the globe to create success tailored to their lifestyles. Prior to this, she worked as a cross-cultural business and communications consultant and has coached over 1000 professionals.Maria is an expert in helping her clients create meaningful, practical, and doable business plans that are reverse-engineered from their life goals and divided into sensible stages that take the overwhelm out of growing your business. Her focus is on building sustainability, not just sales.A big part of this segmented planning is making challenging decisions regarding your offering —  or offerings — at each stage. As Maria says, “Business is all about diversification. But in the beginning, you cannot have too many offers or else you will confuse yourself. Your energy will be split.” When should you develop your online course? Should you start with one-on-ones or group sessions? How many products can you handle selling right now? Maria explains it all in this episode!“You have to fall in love with what you’re offering… You might be confident with what you’re selling. But If you’re not certain of the results it’ll bring others, it will make you doubt yourself.”- Maria TanIn this episode, we’ll explore:How to create a practical and meaningful game plan for your business, based on your life goalsWhat you need to consider when developing each of your offerings — and when you would be better of waitingWhy ‘thinking big’ is so challenging for so many people — and the rewards of getting over that mindsetHighlights:00:43  Introducing my guest, Maria Tan02:21  Maria’s entrepreneurial journey08:53  Start by selling to friends 09:36  Struggles, fears, and cultural impacts12:01  Moving from in-person to online14:21  Create sustainability, not just sales15:00  Reverse-engineer your goals to come up with your big-picture business plan17:55  Why aren’t we trained to think big?18:52  You have your vision — what now?24:28  Time to create your game plan26:32  People don’t understand profit — and they should!27:38  Choosing between offering a digital course or a one-on-one32:01  The impact of having a real game plan for your business34:11  Maria’s big takeaway  Links:CEO Quiz 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
“When you’re in business for yourself, if you know your numbers, you’re going to be a rock star!”- Melissa HoustonI get it: numbers can be scary for a lot of people. While I love working with them, I can understand the reluctance to dig in. Many people fear that they aren’t “smart enough.” I’m here to tell you: you are.And it’s in your best interest to develop a deep understanding of your business numbers.Knowing and understanding your numbers can be the difference between a sustainable, profitable business and a business that fails after three years. It can be the difference between successfully scaling up and spending yourself into bankruptcy. If you want to grow and scale, it’s crucial to understand and be comfortable with managing your finances. If you’re not looking to grow and don’t have the capacity to make more income than what you need, that’s okay, too — it’s still good to understand how your business is doing and be able to identify any potential issues.I’m not asking you to handle all of the financial work yourself. Hiring a bookkeeper, an accountant, and a business coach can make a hugely positive impact on your bottom line. Working with an experienced bookkeeper will help you spend less on an accountant — it’s more expensive for your accountant to correct bad bookkeeping at year-end than it is to pay for a skilled bookkeeper! But no bookkeeper will ever care as much about your business as you. That’s why it’s vital that business owners learn how to create, read, and understand their financial reports.  In this episode, we’ll explore:Three reasons why it is absolutely vital that you stay on top of your financesThe different roles that bookkeepers, accountants, and business financial coaches can play in growing your business (and profits!)The most important things to look for and keep in mind when investing in any of the above services“Profit is what keeps the business sustainable. If you’re operating at a 6- or 7-figure revenue level and you’re not even breaking even, that’s financial trouble.”- Melissa HoustonHighlights:01:35  Understand your numbers and you will be unstoppable01:57  You’re in business to make money — so your profit margins are key03:16  The things that you need to know in order to make smart decisions04:10  Do not give away your financial power!05:19  Bookkeepers, accountants, and business financial coaches: what’s the difference and what do you need?12:02  You can increase your profits without raising your revenues13:30  Be a better CEO (no matter what size your team)14:20  Case Study: Claire (small business owner)Links:The 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
“There’s a real fear to charge what you’re worth.”-Melissa HoustonHow is your money mindset holding you back from reaching the success you’ve always dreamed about?My guest for this episode is Elizabeth St. Pierre, an entrepreneur and business coach who grew her first company, a dog-walking business, to six figures in just six months. She started a blog, where she talked about running her business and offered sales and marketing advice to others. This was the start of her business coaching career — she now oversees the dog-walking business while coaching online full-time. Throughout all of this, Elizabeth has been self taught — everything from content creation to driving traffic to learning how to sell! Elizabeth sees a lot of money mindset issues when working with her clients, particularly when it comes to women entrepreneurs. Money is just a neutral tool that you can use for good or bad, so why is it so emotionally charged? As Elizabeth says, “Growth happens when you take emotion away from the money.” The first step is recognizing where these emotions stem from — and you may need to go back further than you think to find out. “If you go ahead and raise your prices but you don’t truly believe that you’re worth that, you’ll do other things to self sabotage.”- Elizabeth St. Pierre In this episode, we’ll explore:Where and how you form your beliefs about money — and how you can flip those scripts into ideas that serve you (and your business) betterThe common money mindset issues that entrepreneurs (especially women) deal with regularly, including a reluctance to charge what your service or product is really worthHow guilt plays into money mindset — and why it really is okay to make more than your parents or friendsHighlights:00:47  Introducing our guest, business coach Elizabeth St. Pierre 01:39  Elizabeth’s journey to successful business coaching05:48  Shift your money mindset to grow your business07:15  What are your personal limiting beliefs?09:00  How your childhood shapes your money mindset11:00  Money is the most emotionally charged topic12:49  Common money mindset issues13:31  Why don’t you charge what you’re really worth?15:48  The great (and bad) things that can happen when people raise their prices 19:21  Elizabeth’s most impactful money mindset story20:55  It’s okay to make more money than your parents made22:24  How to heal your money mindset — and what changes when you do27:15  Entrepreneurship and vulnerability28:25  Build your support network (and include other entrepreneurs) 31:33  Elizabeth’s big takeaway lesson for listenersLinks:Work with Elizabeth St. Pierre 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
What does it take to build a successful, sustainable business?The answer isn’t as simple as “more sales.”The truth is that your revenue numbers, no matter how high, do not determine how profitable and successful your business is. Your revenue is only one part of your overall financial picture — and six- or seven-figure revenues mean very little if you aren’t actively working to control your costs. Unfortunately, high revenues can be easily negated if your costs are spiralling out of control. This means that your business can be unsuccessful even when you're pulling in record-breaking sales!Your level of profit is your bottom line and this is the #1 most important number when it comes to determining the success of your business. Profit is determined not just by your sales, but by your expenses. Plugging all money leaks and keeping a steady eye on your cash flow is just as crucial as closing more deals if you want your business to last for the long haul.Maintaining up-to-date records and reviewing your numbers regularly makes it a lot easier to stay on top of things and make necessary changes as they arise, whether it’s cancelling a recurring charge that no longer serves your business, or remembering to invoice or follow up with a client who hasn’t yet paid.When working with clients as a CPA, I always recommend five key ways to boost a business’s profits aside from increasing revenues. I’m excited to be able to share them with you in my latest podcast episode!“The reality is: what makes your business successful lies in the profit.”- Melissa HoustonIn this episode, we’ll explore:Five tips to make your business more profitable — without bringing in an additional sale!How to identify and plug all money leaks currently affecting your businessWhy having an organized internal accounting structure will help you save moneyHighlights:01:08  Why I’m not interested in your revenues — and what really gets my attention!  02:01  Calculating your profit03:22  Case study: Rosie’s Company (6-figure influencer & coach)05:54  Setting up a system to review your financial reports06:24  What does your current accounting structure look like?07:01  Five tips for keeping profit in your business without bringing in an additional sale07:35  “82% of business failure is caused by poor cash management”08:19  2 reasons to invoice your clients immediately  10:43  “1 in 10 invoices are paid late” — don’t be that 1!11:12  What to do when a supplier changes their pricing?11:51  Plug those money leaks!13:58  The CFO Money Method frameworkLinks: 4-Step Roadmap to Biz Finance Freedom with me more tips and inspiration? Follow me on Twitter @melissahcpa and Pinterest @melissahoustoncpacga and visit my website:
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