This is an excerpt from an interview conducted with letsreachsuccess.com.
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This is an interview-style post with Marla DiCarlo, CEO of Raincatcher.
Hello, Marla. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I am a co-owner and CEO of Raincatcher, and have been an accountant for over 30 years. I help business owners get their business ready to sell so they find the best buyer and get the maximum value for their business.
How did your financial and accounting background help you start your companies?
My previous background includes working for an M&A and Investment group as the Director of Accounting.
My role was to perform due diligence on the company and to determine if we could help them to scale, reorganize or sell the business.
It was during that time I realized that small business owners are underserved. So I created an outsourced CFO and accounting company called Kaizen Business Results, to help owners understand their financials and make better decisions when growing their company.
Eventually this led me to Raincatcher, where I am able to utilize all of the accounting and consulting skills I learned during my accounting career and help small business owners with one of the biggest, and most important events of their life.
How did Raincatcher come to be?
Raincatcher started online in 2016 by Robert Hirsch and Jock Purtle.
Robert had a vision to expand the selling process through digital marketing. I came in as Vice President and worked with Jock, who was then the President, to create the sales and brokerage process.
Jock left in May 2017 to go back to his small boutique brokerage company and I continued with Robert as the President to expand Raincatcher’s brand. I purchased Raincatcher from Robert at the end of December 2017, and brought in Steve Conwell and Jason Thomas as partners.
We have worked to develop a brand and messaging around helping owners to achieve the American Dream, and added exit planning services to help the owner prepare to sell and get the maximum value for their company.
It is important to us, as small business owners, to help maximize all of the blood, sweat and tears the small business owner has put in, and get the most money for their business when they sell.
Shortly after I joined Raincatcher in 2016, Robert purchased a second business, Boulder Boat Works, a luxury drift boat company for fly fishermen.
I was put in place as the President to help develop the team, maximize efficiencies in the manufacturing process, and increase sales. At the same time I was working as Vice President of Raincatcher, helping to put in place sales and business processes, marketing, and employee development.
I also was the accountant and CFO for Robert’s investments, and managed his personal finances. Needless to say that was a difficult and strenuous time for me.
I used to drive over 1 ½ hours (one-way) to BBW, at least 2-3x per week for over 6-9 months to run the business. It was hard to balance everything, especially when almost all of the decisions for both businesses came back to me.
Both businesses success was dependent on my ability to juggle multiple tasks and make sound business decisions. Great tools and software played a big part in being able to manage everything, including my personal life (I am also a Mom of three kids).
I also had to delegate to my team. Finding great team members that I could depend on was very important.
When you have this much on your plate you do not have time to micromanage. So I had to depend on my team to get done what was tasked to them, and mentor them along the way.
I would not want to relive this period, but I can say it taught me how to be a better leader and not to stress over the little things.
I truly lived one day at a time, one moment at a time, and did the best I could. During this time period, I often said, “this is just a moment, and this too shall pass”.
What prevents many entrepreneurs from getting the maximum value for their business when selling?
Business owners often leave money on the table by not preparing to exit their business. Most business owners spend their time building their company, and do not think about what happens when they are ready to exit.
There are several factors that contribute to maximizing the value of a company. But if the owner does not have a business that can sell it discounts the value of the company and the success of it selling.
Therefore owners need to spend time on planning their exit.
How do you prepare a business to sell (even if it’s not at that stage just yet)?
The first step to preparing a business to sell is evaluating its strengths and weaknesses and then creating a plan to maximize its value.
This does not happen overnight. I would say at a minimum a business owner should start preparing and creating a plan to sell at least 2 years in advance of selling.
Evaluate, prepare, and plan is essential if an owner wants maximum value.
What are the first things you discuss with a client looking to buy an existing business?
One of the first things we discuss with individual buyers is have they evaluated whether they want to build or buy?
Building a company takes several years and demands a lot of the owners attention, but buying a business can have its own set of pros and cons.
The pro is you do not have to start from scratch or recreate the wheel. Instead, you are taking over someone else’s creation with predetermined culture, processes, people and customers.
This can be a good thing, but if you buy a business that is functioning properly you have to adapt to its current attributes and model.
If a buyer is not willing or wanting to take over something that is already built it will show, and can quickly destroy a company.
We spend a lot of time getting to know the buyer to make sure the company they are looking to buy is a good fit for both them, and for the company.
What are some challenges you had to overcome in your career as a serial entrepreneur?
Some of the challenges I had to overcome as a serial entrepreneur is learning to rely on others and that I cannot do everything myself.
I am a highly driven and goal oriented person, with a little touch of the superwoman syndrome. I had to learn the power of surrounding myself with smart people, who knew more than me, I call it Power in The Tribe.
In order to be successful, I had to find others who could make decisions and implement withsome direction.
I have been very lucky to have a team that is committed to the task and willing to do whatever is needed to get that task completed. It makes my life easier as a leader and our company more successful.
How important are cash management and budgeting to a small company’s success?
Oh boy, I could go and on and on about this subject.
Understanding the story of your company’s financials is essential to the business’ success. There is a reason why accounting is the language of business.
I have met so many business owners in my career that were successful in spite of themselves, because they did not pay attention to their financials.
Those owners may have some success for a period of time, but at some point, there will be a moment that they need to make important cash flow decisions for their company. And if they do not not know the story of their financials, or have a plan for the future, they will fail and soon the business will fail.
There are so many great accountants and bookkeepers out there who love small business, and understand how to present accurate financials to help the owner make better decisions.
From my perspective, this is one of the most important tasks and should not be an afterthought.
Small business owners should keep daily, weekly cash flow reporting and track their actuals to their budgets. And most importantly, surround themselves with advisors who understand the numbers and can help them to navigate the future and make proactive decisions.
You’re also a speaker and your last event was The Value Builder System. Tell us a bit about that.
We were invited to present a 90 minute breakout session to business advisors from all over the world at The Value Builder Systems 2019 Summit.
I am big fan of John Warrillow, founder of The Value Builder System and author of Built to Sell and The Automatic Customer, so this was an honor for me to present.
Our session was standing room only with certified value business advisors from many different backgrounds. We received raving reviews from the group regarding our topic, The Secret to Finding New Business: Best Practices to Nurture New Leads.
We discussed the importance of marketing to the correct audience and how to educate the customer through the marketing process in order to bring in warm, qualified leads.
Also, how to develop a relationship with your customer and to provide a solution they need if you want raving fans.
At Raincatcher, all of our leads that come into our pipeline are what we call “golden leads”. This means we do not have low hanging fruit, all of our leads want and need our services.
Our job is to figure out if we have a solution that meets their needs, and if so get them to see the value in working with us.
If you spend the time to create the right marketing funnel you will have better success at selling and closing those leads. If the sales process is authentic and genuine, you gain the customer’s trust, and in the end you will have raving fans.
What are you working on now and what’s next?
I am currently working on scaling Raincatcher to meet our company’s BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).
We are working towards becoming the top business broker in our industry over the next three years. We want to “raise the bar” in the brokerage industry with how we work with customers to maximize value and sell their company.
Raincatcher truly believes that small business is the life blood of our country. We want to help small business owners to get the full value of what they put into their company.
We are doing this through our exit planning services and by building affiliate relationships with like-minded professionals, who also care about small business.
I want to create a company with a reputation of being the “Robin Hood of small business”, a crusader for small business owners, working in partnership to get the maximum value for their company.