How is your relationship with money? If you would check “complicated” at best you won’t want to miss Episode 33 of The Lean Out Your Business Podcast where I interview Aimee LaLiberte, Founder of My Virtual CFO, a company designed to help small business owners get a handle on their finances so they can see their big visions come to life, because let’s be honest, most small business owners didn’t start their business because they loved bookkeeping.
Aimee worked for colleges and non-profits for the first twenty years of her career where she helped build out fundraising campaigns and manage backend money systems. It was during this time that she realized small business owners were missing this money management knowledge and she decided to change that.
Today, through My Virtual CFO, Aimee helps small business owners uncover blind spots, course correct and get more profitable while helping them build their confidence and unwavering drive to attract and build wealth.
Aimee follows the Profit First principles and is a certified life and money coach. If there are only three things you take away from this interview, she hopes it’s this:
- No matter what your income statement or bank account says, money is neutral
- You’re exactly where you need to be
- Any money goal that you set is available to you
Although it’s true that any money goal you set is available to you, it’s also true that you’re going to have to do some work to reach that goal. For you it might look like opening some new bank accounts and being consistent with managing your money, it might look like doing the mindset work of acknowledging you are worthy just because you exist, it might mean retraining your brain to focus on believing your goal is possible or it may mean changing your vantage point and behaviors, realizing, as the saying goes, “that what got you here, won’t get you there,” this last one is especially true if you’re looking to scale your business from 6 to 7 figures.
If you want to succeed you must be willing to retrain your mindset and at certain times you may even need to reinvent or reimagine your business.
In today’s episode, you'll learn:
- What a basic money management system looks like
- Why you need to put profit first
- The number one barrier keeping entrepreneurs from following the profit first system
- How you can separate your self-worth from your business’ bottom line
- The thoughts that prevent us from achieving our financial goals
- Why feeling overwhelmed is a choice
Want to dive deeper? Listen to Episode 33 of The Lean Our Your Business Podcast.
References Mentioned in Episode #33:
- Connect with Aimee and learn more about her services here.
- Join Aimee's Masterclass here.
- Connect with Aimee on her Instagram.
"No matter what your income statement or bank account says, money is neutral." -Aimee LaLiberte Click To Tweet
Hello, Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Lean Out Your Business Podcast. Today I am joined by Aimee LaLiberte, and we are going to dive in and talk all about building relationships with money, so that the money goal that you have is as good as done.
So let me tell you a little bit about Aimee and then Aimee, I'd love for you to introduce yourself to the audience. So, Aimee is the owner of My Virtual CFO, and she is a trusted profitability advisor to six and seven-figure business owners who are tired of being behind in their books, and are ready to uncover blind spots, course correct and ultimately get more profitable. Aimee is also a certified life and money coach and she works with business owners who seek greater confidence and unwavering drive to attract and build wealth in their businesses and their lives. Aimee welcome. I'm so excited that you're here.
Thanks for having me. I am excited to be here today.
So, we're going to dive into all things money. But before we do, can you tell us just a little bit about your journey? And kind of what got you on this path? And what you do?
Yeah, absolutely. So, for me, I know what it's like to not have a relationship with money, because that's where my story began at 18. I was a freshman in college and I was introduced to applying for credit cards, signing promissory notes for student loans, and not having a clue what I was doing. And then on top of that, my parents had decided to split and they both had decided to file for bankruptcy. So, then I had to learn how to pay for my own college education and learn how to manage money fairly quickly. And from there, I made it my life's purpose to create a relationship with money for myself, and then to also work with money, so that I was never going to be in a position where I had no idea what to do with my money. And so, I spent the first 20 years of my business working at colleges and universities and organizations building out fundraising campaigns and doing all of the backend operations stuff. So not only like, how are we going to create this money goal, but also who is going to help us create this money goal? And then how are we going to underwrite and do all the financial aspects of it. And then what I realized was that small businesses, I worked with a lot of entrepreneurs in this space and what I found was small businesses were lacking this skill and lacking this service. And so, five years ago, I decided to create my own business and take all of the things that I have learned during those 20 years, and apply it into business.
And so that's what I do today, I help small business owners create simple money management solutions. And then it goes from like, how do we future focus? How do we do those, like higher level CFO tasks in order for you to create any money goal that your heart desires.
I love that. And I resonate with so much of your story, because I think so many of us go out into the world when we turn 18, very bright eyed and bushy tailed, and we don't fully get what we really need to do with money. Like it's money, it's just this thing, like, I'm going to take out a loan, and it's cool. And I get to go to college, and I'm going to take out a credit card, and it's great. And I get to do this. And then you have that moment where you realize, wait, I need to pay all this back. Then you realize, wait a minute, how do I pay all this back? How does that work? What does that look like? And I think it's
unfortunate that a lot of people aren't taught some of that earlier in life. But I love that that's something that you help people with. And that you've put your focus on entrepreneurs and small business owners, because I think they need it so much. And just like when we go off to college at 18, and don't really have a solid understanding of money, I feel like entrepreneurs frequently don't really have a solid understanding of how to manage their finances and their business.
Absolutely. I work with multiple six and seven figure business owners, and they all say something of the realm of “I started my business so that I could fill in the blank of the service, the product, whatever it is that they're looking to do, I didn't do this in order to do my finances in order to do my bookkeeping,” but yet they need to do it. Because at the end of the year, they have to pay taxes. And so, it's this whole like means to an end thing. And there's this resistance to it. And to your point about, like not learning about just basic financial literacy. I mean, that's just something that, you know, in the United States, our public education system does not have consistent curriculum across all the states for that. So, it's part of it, it is that we're not providing that as an educational forum in a really consistent way for like when you're growing up, and I think that then it's just carried with you into your adulthood and I'm looking to change that.
I love it. And I think that is so needed. So, one of the things you touched on was having a money management system. So can you tell us a little bit more about what that is and what about the entrepreneur who's been in business for a while, but maybe doesn't have one. What can they do to dive in and start to put that in place?
So, it really comes down to really like, if you look at it from like a pillar standpoint, what is your system to receive money? So how do you collect money? What are your products? What are your services? What are your offerings? What does that look like? And how do you receive that money? Do you have a payment system? Is that payment system available for all of it? So really defining what that is? And then on the opposite side is you have bills to pay with your business? How do you do that? And how does each vendor relate to it? Because there's some vendors that have different rules. There are some vendors that you can automate. So again, just creating like that on the bill side, and then it's okay, now we're going to bring it all together for the banking account, what accounts do you need? And that's where we started to get into Profit First, which I think we're going to talk about. And so like, how do you have a banking account system that will really help you define where all the buckets and how you're allocating that money, and then it all comes down to like having a bookkeeping system. So being really clear on that. And regardless, if you're just starting out, or if you are well-along in your business journey, having a bookkeeping software, and I don't mean an Excel spreadsheet, I don't believe that it's in a spreadsheet, even if you're just starting out will serve you long term. Because as entrepreneurs, we need to make the most of our time. And if you're not in a position right now, where you're going to outsource it, leveraging technology and leveraging a bookkeeping system that can help you do some automation will serve you and make it super-efficient. And then on the other side of it is how are you evaluating your results? How are you going in and looking at your results from the prior month, the prior quarter, the prior year? And do you understand what's happening in your business? Can you answer a series of questions? And so that's where the whole system comes in place. So, it's not just, you know, we're going to focus on, you know, all of like the taking massive action, but how are the actions that
we're taking creating the results? And then the mindset piece of it. What are we thinking when we're taking that action?
I love all of that. And I feel like so much of that honestly mirrors the Lean Out Method so well, where you have your context, you get your clarity, you commit to doing it, and then you do Kaizen to continuously reflect right? And so, it just, I feel like that models it so well. And this is just another system that's absolutely critical in your business. So, love that. And you did mention Profit First. And so, this is one of my favorites. I love Profit First. It's something that I actually send this book along with the Big Leap to a lot of my new clients. And so, for somebody who's not familiar with Profit First, can you walk through what it is? And why you should consider using it in your business?
Yeah, absolutely. So, with Profit First, what that is, is it's a cash management system. This is not a replacement for your bookkeeping system, it is something that goes on top of it. A lot of businesses, when they start, they have like one account, they might have a checking account and a savings account. And all the money sitting in let's just say the checking account. So that information, all that money sitting there doesn't give you any indication as to whether or not you have enough money to pay the bills. Do you have all your income that's coming in. And so, what Profit First does is it creates a series of in the most simplistic way, five accounts. And what you do is you have all your money come into one account. And then depending on the rhythm for which you need for your business, but typically, it's two times a month, you then run your percentages, and you send money down to the basic level for different accounts. And that's Profit, that's Owners Pay, Operating Expenses and Tax. And what this is doing is it's taking the accounting equation, which is sales minus expenses equals profit, and it's switching the profit and the expense, part of the equation. And it's saying sales minus profit equals expenses. Because if we take our profit first and we consciously decide that we are a profitable business, we then are profitable. And then we're using what we have left over in order to create expenses and to create a profitable business that is maximized based on the type of revenue that you have coming in.
Yeah, the thing I love so much about Profit First is it really does force you to be really strategic about your spending and very intentional with what you're doing. And that just again, fit so much of what I teach in Lean Out Method, which is why I love it so much and recommend all of my clients leverage it is it's just a really smart way to approach your finances and your business. So, I love that that's something that you help people with and what do you find is one of the biggest struggles for people when they first get started leveraging this because I get so many questions from my clients.
Okay, so the first the number one thing I think is the barrier to entry is the creation of the bank accounts for whatever reason, going to the bank and creating these accounts has such resistance. And I think that some of it has to do with when you want to create all these accounts, you know, you have to tell the bank person like, this is what I'm doing. And they ask questions, because it's not typical. Usually, it's like a two-account setup. And so, then there's like, I'm just starting now I'm learning this whole method, I want to do it, but then you have to, like feel like you have to explain yourself about this is what I want to do. And I think that they want to avoid the conversation. And so, it's the creating of the bank accounts. But this is what I have to tell you in terms of overcoming that, number one, is you make the appointment with your bank. And you know, with COVID, and everything, a lot of these banks have been
able to then move everything online. So, you might not even have to go visit a bank. So, you want to maybe call in advance and see if you can do this bank creation ahead of time, or online or through a phone call. But if you do have to go in person, I always recommend that you go to your favorite place, whether it's Starbucks, like whatever your favorite place is and purchase yourself a nice beverage and then take it with you to then open up the accounts. And the reason why is because if you're adding something that you really enjoy doing, then the discomfort or the nervousness that you may feel going into the bank is I mean, you're going to have that with you, it's, it's going to be great. And, you know, bring the book, if you have the book like this is what I'm looking to, I want to maximize my profitability. This is a system that I know works. And this is what I'm creating. And then you just want to create those accounts. But yeah, it's the bank accounts, that part of it. The other part, I think, is then maintaining consistency with it. So, if inevitably, something happens in your revenue that you have forecasted doesn't end up happening in quite the way that you thought it would. There is this nervousness of like, I don't have enough operating, I don't have enough money in my operating expense to cover these bills, what am I supposed to do? And that's really where the mindset work comes into play. And that's where more of like an advanced implementation of Profit First really then helps you as well. Because if you have a vault account, if there's ever any revenue that doesn't come in, or the timing is off, you can utilize some savings, and then move that up and then continue with your business.
Yeah, that's really great. And I'm, there's so many questions for you. But I want to shift gears for a moment and talk about mindset, because you just mentioned it. And I think there really is so much around money mindset. And we can get in our own way, sometimes because of mindset. So why do you think it's really important to kind of separate your self-worth and your success, and all those feelings from the bottom line of your business?
So, I think that what we forget as humans is that we were born into this world 100% lovable, and we have everything available to us in terms of we’re enough, we’re worthy, and we’re loved. And then life starts to happen, circumstance start to happen. And our brains start to think like, “Oh, I need to do this in order to create this.” And so, it starts to create this whole belief structure. And I think what happens for us, we live in a world where we think that if you have a lot of money, that means that you're more worthy, but that's just not the case, we're always worthy. We're always lovable, we're always enough. And so, when you look at your income statement, especially if you're a small business, and you're the person that's, you know, like, you're the CEO, you're the visionary, you're the person doing all the things, it can very easily mean that if you're looking at the bottom of your income statement, and you can see a loss that you all of a sudden think like, man, I really suck at this, this is not going well. And that's just not like that. That number is neutral. That number does not define you as a person. Because again, you're always worthy. You're always enough you're always loved. And really coming back to that and just understanding like, okay, so I see a negative number. Why did that happen? Oh, this is why this happens. It then completely neutralizes the idea that it has anything to do with you and more to do with like, what can I do? What can I offer? What can I create in order to improve this the next time so it's not like we turn around and let's say we're learning something new. And maybe the results are not the way that we want them, you know, the first turn around, we're not going to turn around and beat ourselves up over it. We're going to turn around and say we're going to learn from this and then we're going to then move forward and we're going to figure it out and then we're going to iterate we're going to have more information and we're going to iterate and that's the same thing when it comes to separating your line with your self-worth, because you're always worthy.
That's such a great perspective. And I think it's so important that everybody reminds themselves of that, because it can get really disheartening. You're like, I'm working so hard, and I'm trying so hard. And I think I'm doing all the right things. And it's a negative month and like, I can remember those days back when I first started my business, and it can be a little heartbreaking. And you do have that, like, am I cut out for this, and all of those sorts of feelings start to come up. And I'm super grateful that I'm in a very different place in my business today. But I can really remember feeling that way. And I'm sure all of us have experienced that from time to time. So, I think that's such an important lesson.
Yeah, absolutely. I absolutely think that it's all part of the journey. I don't know I just lately I've been getting more into like exercising and you know, rowing is my thing. And what I'm creating right now is not what I'm going to be creating a month from now. And chances are, I'm going to be faster a month from now. But to get from where I am now to where I am going there's a lot of discomfort, right? There's a lot of like things that are happening and am I all in to experience the discomfort, like the highs and the lows in order to create the result. And for me, the answer's yes. And I think what happens with businesses is they think like, “Oh, my God, I had a bad month. This means that it's over?” Well, no, it's just that that's just a point in time. Now let's move forward. And then we have another point in time that we can look at, but really not going like all or nothing and not thinking about it from the standpoint of there's these polar opposites. You're either in or you're out, you're either profitable or you're not. Or just saying like, there's a lot of space in between those two areas.
Yeah, definitely. And it's very good to think about that and reflect on that. And I think the reflection is the key, right? Data is data, your results are your results. What's it telling you to reflect on, what it's telling you so you know what to do next? Or what to experiment with in trying next, to see if you get different results?
So, let's talk a little bit more about some of the things that we tend to think as entrepreneurs, and what are some of the thoughts that really end up keeping us from achieving our financial goals? I think that the one that is that if you have never created something, so there's a couple of different things, there's like the journey to your first six figures, and then there's the journey to your first seven figures, right? And it's like you've never created that before, right? So maybe you were not if you worked in corporate, maybe you didn't have a six-figure salary. And so, like creating a six-figure business is unfamiliar. And then what I believe your brain says is that this is unfamiliar. So therefore, I can't create this, because I've never done this before. Why would I do that. And when I'm working with clients that are trying to create financial goals that they've never created before in their lives, it's really starting to break down that belief system and really poking holes into it and raising their awareness around it, which I think is so critical. I think that there's a lot of entrepreneurs that believe that taking massive action, and hustling and all the things that that is what creates the results. But it's your thoughts, it's your thoughts and your feelings when you take that action that create those results. And it's really doing the mindset work, the daily mindset work, if you're trying to create a financial goal, what is that goal? If it's your first six figures? $100,000? Like, what are the thoughts that come up in your mind all of them, because as much as there might be a thought of like, I've never done this before, I'm not going to be able to do this, I
don't know how to do this, I don't have the skill set, like whatever, whatever the thing is, there should be some other thoughts that come through is that I believe this is possible for me. And it's really trying to step in to a new belief system that makes the creation of those six figures completely available to you, and then making your next six figures, and then your seven figures available to you. But it's really the awareness and really poking holes in those thoughts. Because our brains are very efficient. They just are going to replay replay replay all the thoughts that we have on repeat. So of course, if the thought is “I've never done this before, I don't know how to create $100,000 business,” you're going to feel overwhelmed, you're going to feel all of these negative emotions. And when you take action, are you going to have a relationship with your money? Are you going to show up and meet people and make offers, you know, in terms of what you're going to do? Are you going to do the sales in order to create the results? And that's really where mindset work, I think is critical to an entrepreneur.
Yeah. And I'm curious your thoughts on this because one of the things that I see is a lot of the people by the time they come to work with me, they've reached six figures, some have reached multiple six figures, and they're always on their path to seven and beyond. But sometimes they get stuck in a trap of well, this is what I did to get to six figures and they did exactly what you talked about. They have worked super hard. They wore all the hats, they did all the things for all the people. And they get really scared to let any of that go. Because their mind says this got me six figures, this is what I got to keep doing. If I want to get to multi six, or if I want to get to seven, when the reality is that's not actually true. And so, what's your kind of perspective on that? Or how do you help people with that? I know you work with people in the multi six and seven figure range as well.
Yeah, so it's really like when it comes, like CIO, CFO work, right, it's future focus in terms of the numbers. When it comes to the mindset of a multiple, six, seven figure business owner, it's also future focused, the person that you are at multiple, six figures is not the person that you are, when you're at seven figures, multiple, seven figures and beyond, there's a whole different transformation. And it's not that this person is a better version of you. They're just a different version of you. They take different actions, they perceive the world differently, and they make decisions from a different lens. And it's really starting to decide who is the person? Like, what does the visionary CEO of this business? How are they making decisions from the lens of a seven figure business owner, once they're willing to step into that, that's when they're going to realize that, oh, you know, what, I can't be working 80 hour weeks, as a seven figure business owner, you know, what, I'm going to have to hire a team, you know what I'm going to have to take better care of myself, you know what I'm going to have to create other offers that are going to be able to help my clients, it's almost like you have to dismantle the business that you currently have and rebuild it. And that is so overwhelming for business owners, they don't want to do it.
And I do find that it's a lot of the times when people come to me, they're at that point where they need to reimagine their business. And they know logically that they need to do it, they know, they need to do things differently to get to the next level, but it's really hard to let go of the things that they have, and the things that got them to where they are today. Because there's a fear if I let that go, like sometimes it's an identity thing. Sometimes it's just, I don't know if this new thing is going to work. So, if I let it go, what I did before worked. Now what? So right, well, and I think that there are seasons, too, I think that like, if you think about how long do they take someone to go from, like just starting their business to
their first six figures. And then because I think that work is the hardest work. Because you really have to believe typically the person is like, they're the salesperson, they're the service delivery person. And so, they're wearing the multiple hats. And so that constant, like context shifting is like alive and well in your business when you're just starting your first six figures. But in terms of like moving forward, it's almost like, okay, I don't like the context switching in terms of like dividing yourself up. It's like, you no longer have to divide yourself, you can add a team person. And then there's that. But it's also like, how do I do that? How do I do that. So, it's a whole new set of skills. But the thing is, is that if you can create your first six figures, you can create another six figure, you can create seven figures, you can do that, because you've already got the core skills in place, you have the foundation, now you just need to build on it.
Yeah, and I agree with you 100%, I think your first six figures in your business is the hardest thing that you will ever do in the life of your business. From there, it really is a lot easier. And I think something we were talking about before we started recording is it's actually a lot easier than people make it out to be. But I think we get so distracted by all of that you need to do this, and you need the system and you need this tool. And are you doing this? And are you on this new platform? And are you using this new feature that it can feel really almost crushingly overwhelming sometimes, and like we need to be doing so much more than we need to, but scaling your business and taking your business to the next level, it's actually not that challenging. It's a lot easier than people make it out to be once you've gotten over that six figure mark, and you've gotten your business to a place of profitability.
Mm hmm. Absolutely. And, again, I think that the key takeaway is that it's overwhelm is optional, feeling the overwhelm, feeling confused, all of that is optional. And I think the other thing that tends to happen is that you have businesses that have been in business longer than you who are telling you like, “Oh, you should do this,” but they're further along on their journey than you are. So, the simplification that minimalized like, having a very minimalist approach, I feel like is what has helped me scale as quickly as I had was because I just, you know, it was like, “Oh, you should do this,” “Oh, you should do that.” And it was like, yeah. And then I would I would be like, yeah, I should totally go do that. And then I realized, like, it was just another distraction. What is it that I know my ideal client needs? Like, what is the problem that I solve for them, and then just doubling down on all of that. So, for me, it's like, I help business owners who feel like they're behind and that they don't have a relationship with money, I helped create that for them. And I show them how to have a relationship with money. And with just starting out businesses like this is like, where I'm like building out a new offering, as now. And I feel like all the mindset work is coming in handy because it's like, okay, if you're just starting out, do you need to hire a CFO? No, but you need to know how to do CFO level things, just so that you can make solid decisions. And so like, it's like, what does that look like? But again, it all is from the same realm of we're creating your relationship with money.
Yeah. And you said something in there, which I really liked. Which leads me to the question that I asked everybody, and I can't wait to hear what you say for this, too. But how in your business do you work smarter, not harder, and keep things lean beyond what you just shared with us?
I've learned to say no, and say no to opportunities that look like there really good on paper, but I know are distractions and being able to discern exactly what those are. And really, again, using my intuition, and really trusting myself, I know my business, I am like the soul of my business, it is a direct creation from me, and being able to then discern that like, is this a distraction? Or is this a great opportunity? Do I like my reasons to do this? And be brutally honest with myself. And being able to say, “No, thank you, that's not going to be on the docket.” And it's not to say no, thank you never. But no, thank you. This is not the right time. And having that transparency, I guess, as the CEO. And as the person that is looking at my business from like a neutral standpoint, I think that's how I keep it lean.
I love that. And I think that's advice that everybody could implement in their business. So, tell us more about you what's going on in your world? What do you have coming up? And where can people find more about you and working with you?
Yeah, so as I mentioned, a few moments ago, I am creating a masterclass, which will be available on my website for you to sign up for if anything I've said today resonates with you. And we'll talk about all of the things that we've talked about Profit First, money management, mindset, all of it. And if you go to myvirtualcfo.co/masterclass, you'll be able to check out all the information and sign up and participate.
That sounds excellent. And we'll include that in the show notes. And where can people find you on social or on your website?
Awesome, Aimee, so much gold in today's episode, I feel like I could talk to you for days on end. But just one final thing is do you have any kind of parting tips or final thoughts for listeners on how to build that really positive relationship with money so that they can achieve their money goals?
Yes. So, there's three things that I want to say, number one, no matter what your bank account, or your income statement says, money is neutral, your thoughts about money is where like, is the opportunity for transformation. And number two, you're exactly where you need to be and really believe that with all of your core. And number three, any money goal that you set is available to you. It will require work, it will require transformation and it will require you to step in to a future version of yourself and you get to decide whether or not that is a worthy journey for you to partake on. And guess what, it's totally fine if you decide yes, and it's totally fine. if you decide no, you are whole and worthy exactly the way you are.
Love it. Brilliant. Aimee, thank you so much. Everyone I hope you got tons of value out of this week's episode and we will see you again next week.
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by Crista Grasso
Crista Grasso is the go-to strategic planning expert for leading global businesses and online entrepreneurs when they want to scale. Known as the "Business Optimizer", Crista has the ability to quickly cut through noise and focus on optimizing the core things that will make the biggest impact to scale a business simply and sustainably. She specializes in helping businesses gain clarity on the most important things that will drive maximum value for their clients and maximum profits for their business. She is the creator of the Lean Out Method, 90 Day Lean Out Planner, and host of the Lean Out Your Business Podcast. She is also the founder and CVO of the Profitable Planner Co and Criscara Jewelry.