Stephanie Sims | Knowing your Worth and Moving Forward in an Uncertain Economy

Stephanie Sims is the Founder of Finance-Ability, a business that helps fellow entrepreneurs navigate their steps from startup to continued success through education and confidence building. She is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and podcaster, and she carries more than two decades worth of experience in finance quality, IT management, in the valuation of public and private entities. Her career started in real estate investment banking working with Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, just to name a few. She also went international, assisting Swiss startup MicroChemical Systems in business development capital, financial projections, and keeping venture capital investors happy. 

In 2009, Stephanie came back to the US and founded a consulting firm called Rimalu Ventures based out of Arizona, and that venture then led to where we are now, Finance-Ability. Stephanie teaches her clients the tools they need to expertly evaluate risk versus reward.

In this episode, Julie Musgrave, guest host of The Smart Business Revolution podcast interviews Stephanie Sims about her inspiration to start Finance-Ability, how to get funding, how business owners can know their worth and identify their strengths and weaknesses, and why entrepreneurs don’t always need to have all the answers.

 

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Learn:

  • The inspiration and concept behind Finance-Ability
  • Stephanie Sims shares her personal experiences of looking for funding for her business and why it’s important for business owners to know their worth
  • How Stephanie came up with the content of her quiz for business owners and why she uses those specific questions
  • Stephanie’s advice on getting funding, dealing with roadblocks,the importance of finding out why investors say ‘No’
  • How business owners can identify their strengths and weaknesses and how they can balance life between family and work
  • Stephanie’s advice to people who were in the process of launching their businesses before coronavirus on how to move forward post-coronavirus
  • How founders can manage their new businesses positively, why it’s okay for them to now have all the answers, and how they can handle questions they don’t have answers to
  • The people Stephanie credits for getting to where she is today

Resources Mentioned:

Sponsor: Rise25

Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you podcast solution and content marketing. 

Along with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weisz, we have over 18 years of experience with B2B podcasting, which is one of the best things you can do for your business and you personally. 

If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great ROI, great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing

A podcast is the highest and best use of your time and will save you time by connecting you to higher caliber people to uplevel your network. 

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Episode Transcript

Julie Musgrave  00:40

Hi there. I’m Julie Musgrave guest host of smart business revolution podcast where we talk with CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of companies and organizations like YPO eo Activision Blizzard, lending tree, Open Table, app software, and many more. I’m very excited because my guest today is Stephanie Sims the founder of financial stability. If you’re looking for tailored advice on how to make your business successful, both financially and personally, she can help you navigate through the process in a way that works best for you. Before we get into the interview, this episode is brought to you buy rise25 Media.

If you’ve been listening for a while, you know how passionate we are about podcasting and content marketing that up levels your network. We are podcasting evangelist and for 10 years, we’ve been saying everyone should start a podcast. Because even if no one was listening, you will derive tremendous benefits to your life. It’s like a Swiss Army knife. It’s a tool that accomplishes so much at once. It can and will lead to great client referrals, strategic partnerships. It’s networking and business development, its personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing. We cannot personally help every person to start and run Their podcasts but we will try to inspire every person we can reach to do it one way or another because you will love it. And tremendous benefit will flow to your life. So to learn more and get some more inspiration and ideas about how you could get clients, referrals and some of the best friendships of your life from a podcast, go to rise 25 Media comm or email support at rise25media.com. As I mentioned, our guest is Stephanie Sims. Stephanie is an entrepreneur, author, speaker and podcaster. She carries more than two decades worth of experience in finance, quality and IT management as well as valuation of public and private entities. Her career started in real estate investment banking, working with Goldman Sachs csfb and Lehman Brothers just to name a few. Her experience then went international assisting Swiss startup micro chemical systems and business development capital, financial projections and keeping venture capital All investors happy. In 2009, she came back to the US and founded a consulting firm called rim Aloo ventures based out of Arizona. That venture then led to where we are now the founder of finance stability, a business that helps fellow entrepreneurs navigate their steps from startup to continued success through education and confidence building. Stephanie teaches her clients the tools to expertly evaluate risk versus reward. cannot wait to hear her inspiring advice. Stephanie, thank you so much for joining us.

 

Stephanie Sims  03:34

Thanks, Julie. It’ll be here.

 

Julie Musgrave  03:36

We are so excited. So let’s just start from the beginning. Start with the idea behind the concept. What would you say inspired you to start finance ability?

 

Stephanie Sims  03:44

That’s a great question. The concept is really that every business owner has the ability to master the financial aspects of their business, even if they don’t have an accounting degree, even if they never went to business school and The heart of that really came from helping my parents Sell a Business that they own for over 25 years. To super smart people. My dad is a CPA, my mom has experience and lots of different types of transactions, including the oil and gas industry. Yet when it came time to sell their business, they were so involved in the day to day that they really had a hard time kind of lifting their heads and understanding the value of what they were offering. And that experience really is what led me to say, Hey, wait a minute. There are a lot more smart people out there who’ve built great businesses who want to build one, but they need help with this sort of financial investor mindset piece.

 

Julie Musgrave  04:43

What were some of the things that they felt were holding them back?

 

Stephanie Sims  04:47

So it was really interesting when we first started working together and I don’t know if you’ve ever worked with family that’s a whole nother whole nother level there. Yeah, exactly. But on the business side, it was, you know, you know things so well, you know, things like the back of your hand, you haven’t thought of how to sort of package them up in a way that actually makes them attractive. A lot of times you see the warts in what you’re doing. And you can’t necessarily present it in a way that makes it super exciting to somebody who’s just seeing it for the first time.

 

Julie Musgrave  05:22

You want to be able to get people to be as excited as you are about it. And sometimes it’s hard to find that language. So you focus a lot on the suits. And speaking of being able to package up your idea and get it to going to someone else. You’ve probably been that person you’ve encountered that person. Do you have any personal experiences with maybe some intimidation or feeling a little bit overwhelmed as you tried to launch anything?

 

Stephanie Sims  05:50

Oh, and this is something that every founder every entrepreneur has experienced at one time or another? This kind of power dynamic, right? Oh, I have to go ask this person. some money. And some people have it around clients. Some people have it around funding, right, whether it’s talking to your banker or trying to talk to an angel investor or even a venture capitalist. And then some people have it around their, their partners, right, like strategic partnerships. And one of the things that I found that’s always really helpful for me is if you try to think about the conversation as looking for a fit, so instead of thinking, I’m going to ask this person for money, and they might say, no, it’s more, I have an exciting opportunity for the person. And I just want to see if they’re a fit for me as much as I’m seeing if they’re a fit, if I’m a fit for them. I can understand that kind of pressure. You want everyone to say yes to you. And so you’re afraid of maybe saying no to someone else, but it is super important to find the right fit, don’t settle. Exactly. And I think sometimes what we do And I’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs do this as well is they’re so excited that somebody finally said yes, that they end up taking a transaction or a partnership arrangement. That’s just not a good fit for them. And so that’s where doing a little bit of pre-work and really, really understanding the value you provide. And having maybe some lines in the sand can help you get into that situation and be able to say, you know what, this, this isn’t a fit for me, I see that you’re super excited. But here’s what I need to make this work for me.

 

Julie Musgrave  07:31

You mentioned before the fact that you should really know your worth. I think a lot of people may not realize what they have to give out there. At least externally. Any advice for how to maybe learn that about yourself as a business owner?

 

Stephanie Sims  07:49

That’s a great question. And so that depends on the kind of business you’re in, right? So sometimes in a product business, it can be easier to kind of know your worth because you can rebuild. thing, right? You’re you’ve got this thing and you know how much it costs. But in service businesses, I particularly find people struggle with this because sometimes they’re putting a value on their own time. And that feels really strange. And so one of the things I encourage people to do is really look at the problem that you’re solving for the person that you’re helping. And quite often, if you look at the value through their eyes, it makes it easier for you to understand what you’re providing, instead of it being all about well, I don’t know if I want to charge x per hour.

 

Julie Musgrave  08:34

Yeah, yeah. And you deserve to be able to charge what you are worth. So part of your business model I saw involves a sort of quiz that you want business owners to sit through and answer these questions. How did you determine the content there? And why are those the questions that we should be asking ourselves as we launch whatever it is that we’re trying to get going?

 

Stephanie Sims  08:56

That’s Thank you already for looking at the quiz. I We did invest a lot, a lot of time into putting that together. Those questions come from my investment banking background. And those are the questions that investors or bankers are going to be asking you. And so the way the quiz is designed is, it’s really there to help you understand where you’re a best fit, so that you’re not wasting time chasing money, that’s just not a good fit for you. I know we hear a lot in the popular press about everybody needs to raise an angel round or everybody needs venture capital. And the truth is that less than 1% of businesses are really right for that kind of funding. And so if you can just take that off the table and not even have to worry about that, to me, that’s really freeing place to be because you don’t have to go through all that rigmarole. You’re going to focus on a different type of funding for your business.

 

Julie Musgrave  09:50

That’s just one burden that’s lifted because funding can be

 

09:54

sometimes the most stressful part. Exactly, exactly.

 

Julie Musgrave  09:58

And speaking of funding, you do help People find the cash as you say, so what is your best advice for those first steps, maybe encountering some roadblocks along the way? Moving on from hearing the word no.

 

Stephanie Sims  10:13

So I think, first off, prepare yourself, right? Because everyone’s not going to be a fit. And you only want the people who are going to be a true partner to you. So don’t expect everyone to say yes. And despite what you hear that you have to talk to 200 people or 500 people or whatever, I think it’s good to have a list of folks that you feel would be a fit. And then to take that list systematically, and understand refine the list as you talk to more people. Because if you’re learning from each of those conversations, ultimately you’re just getting closer to the person who’s gonna say yes, but you have to listen to what the folks who are saying no, listen to those objections, and be able to integrate them into the way that you’re talking. About your opportunity, otherwise, you’re going to keep hearing No, because you haven’t really adapted to the way that you’re talking about things.

 

Julie Musgrave  11:08

And probably when you do hear no, there’s a sense of learning growing from that, and maybe finding out why they said no, and then being able

 

Stephanie Sims  11:17

to load on that. Exactly. And I think and I think that a lot of people when they hear the know are so they had such high expectations, right? They were like, this is gonna work, it’s gonna work this time, that they can’t in that moment, ask those questions, right? You know, which part of this particular opportunity was not attractive to you? But if you can practice hearing No, so that it’s not that shock when you get it and stay in the conversation to ask exactly the questions you were talking about. That makes a huge difference, not only because you’ll learn from it, but also because so few people do it that the person you’re talking to is going to remember you and if you do come back to them, say in six months Because you needed more traction or more clients or whatever, they’re going to remember who this is somebody who had a very high level of self-awareness and capacity to integrate the feedback that I gave them.

 

Julie Musgrave  12:12

I think that’s an interesting point, too, is that even if you hear no from someone one time, that doesn’t mean that you can’t go back to them again and try again.

 

Stephanie Sims  12:21

Exactly. And that’s where knowing why they said no can be really helpful. Because if they say, No, we don’t invest in that type of business, or, you know, perhaps it’s a bank and they say, No, we can’t make loans against this particular type of business. That’s, that’s a no, you can keep them informed, but probably nothing going to happen. Nothing is going to happen there. However, if it’s someone who says, Well, this is really great, but we can’t invest in you because you haven’t been in business long enough. Or we need you to achieve a certain level of revenue first. That’s a perfect target to stay in touch with. And to reach out to them say three months from the first meeting and say, Hey, just wanted to let you know that we’re on track. To hit the target that you set for us in six months a year, would it be good if we came back and had another conversation?

 

Julie Musgrave  13:07

And I’m sure that just shows great faith and builds that trust early on all this kind of parlays into strengths and weaknesses. So how do you What’s your best advice to play up what our strengths are and also maybe learn from those weaknesses that we come across?

 

Stephanie Sims  13:25

I think that’s a great question. I think one of the places I see entrepreneurs struggle a lot is identifying their strengths and their weaknesses to start with. And it depends, maybe it’s a generational thing. But you know, some of us were taught that if somebody asks your weaknesses, like in a job interview, you’re supposed to say, Oh, I work too hard. You know, you’re supposed to take all your weaknesses, and I can always be

 

Julie Musgrave  13:47

a positive, right? I’m too devoted. Right,

 

Stephanie Sims  13:51

exactly. And while I think, Well, I think if it’s true, you shouldn’t make up a weakness. I do think that it’s variable To acknowledge places where you do need assistance, because that can also be an opportunity for the person you’re talking to to help you. So say that you have a tech business, and you’re having trouble finding talent, right, which up until recently was the case because the market was so tight. If you just say we’d like to grow our dev team, but we’re having trouble finding talent, that’s part of the reason that we can’t move as quickly as we’d like to, perhaps the person you’re talking to is like, Oh, I have a brother in law, or I have a friend who’s a recruiter, or I happen to know somebody who just reached out to me, and they could make that connection for you. So so I would, I would talk about what you’re good at. But I wouldn’t hesitate to talk about where you might need help. because quite often, that can be another connection point and another way somebody could actually help you and build that relationship.

 

Julie Musgrave  14:51

Yeah, absolutely. You never know where the next connection is lying around the corner. Let’s switch gears a little bit and talk just about balance because I know, there is that feeling of overwhelm when you are trying to launch something and maybe you have a family, I know you’ve got three kids, your wife, so you got to figure it all out. You want to be happy financially, but also personally. So what’s your best advice for managing all that?

 

Stephanie Sims  15:18

I don’t care who tells you it all together? They don’t. They’re lying. Well, they’re not lying. But you know, point number one, nobody actually has it all together. Nobody actually has it all figured out. And so even these, you know, even the amazing role models and there are a lot Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of women that I admire. You know, folks like Kate Northrup looks like Sara Blakely. Lots of other folks that are maybe less well known, who do a great job, living, you know, work life balance, but I also think that you have to be realistic with yourself. And you have to understand, hey, I’m not going to be perfect on any given day, but I I need to set my own barometer, if you will, that’s going to help me make sure that over a week or a month, I’m taking care of the of the family and of my business in a way that really makes me feel good about what I’m doing. I think that, I think that it’s always a challenge when you feel like you’re pulled in both directions. But if you can actually say, I’m going to concentrate 100% on this particular project, and then I’m going to take a long weekend and spend it with my family. Sometimes that helps you be more present in both cases, than if you’re like, well, I’m going to work on this project for 25 minutes, and then I’m going to go do this with my family and then I’m going to come back. So it’s not knowing yourself, but it’s also about really checking in to make sure that you’re moving towards the goals that you want to achieve in both in both areas. Right.

 

Julie Musgrave  16:54

I like it that you’re recognizing that each day is a new day. You can put into it however, puzzle pieces fit right? Is there anything that you wish that you’d done differently?

 

Stephanie Sims  17:09

I laugh and it. It’s not that I would have done it differently. I think there’s there’s all kinds of amazing things that happen. And I think I wish I knew then what I know now, right, but everybody does. I wish that I had been less focused on impressing other people and worrying about what some of the folks that I worked with thought and maybe a little bit more willing to speak my mind. But some of that’s us, right and some of that experience and I think you can only you can only go forward from where you are and the truth is I wouldn’t trade anything, because then I would be somewhere else and I really like where I am.

 

Julie Musgrave  17:52

It’s a good spot. I would. Let’s talk a little timely now timely issue. Of course everyone’s dealing with Coronavirus Maybe someone just launched a business before all this happened. Maybe they were in the middle of trying to get that business launched. What advice do you have for moving forward once all this finally gets settled?

 

Stephanie Sims  18:13

That’s a great question. And the first thing I would say is that you’re not alone. There are plenty of folks who I’ve worked with personally, who were in industries that have been terribly hard hit, you know, people in food and beverage, specifically, people in retail, who had great ideas, and we’re getting a lot of traction prior to COVID. I’ve been incredibly impressed with the way that some of those folks have pivoted. So they’ve basically said, What can I do with the technology that would allow me to serve folks during this period, but preserve my ability to go back to my original business model later? And then there are some folks who decided, you know, what, some of them it was a side hustle, right? They were about bout to quit their job and move into the business full time. Obviously, most of those have decided on this stick with my job. And I’ll move to the side hustle a bit later. And I think there are some folks who, who maybe have been thinking about it. And perhaps they’re deciding now, this isn’t the business of my dreams. Right? They’re looking at it. And they’re asking themselves the question, do I want to take on this much risk? And so I guess my biggest piece of advice would be to try to understand what feels like the best fit for you. And just because you had committed to something, if this has made you rethink that, don’t feel like a failure, if you choose to keep it a side hustle or you choose not to pursue it. Maybe this is the opportunity, you needed to recognize that there’s something better that could come from that experience, but it doesn’t have to be that business or that idea.

 

Julie Musgrave  19:53

Yeah, it’s so hard to kind of manage those expectations because January 1 2020, we had no idea, And let’s say that someone decides that they do want to stick with it. How do we move forward? I know there’s some stimulus programs and how, how do we manage this in a positive way?

 

Stephanie Sims  20:15

That’s a great question. And I think a lot of folks are early days, right? So say six weeks ago, when when we weren’t really sure how long this was going to last. And we’re still not sure, but maybe we have a little bit better idea, right? I think there were a lot of people who were sort of holding their breath, you know, figuratively, they were like, well, I just have to survive the next four weeks. And I’m, I’m hopeful that most people have kind of recognized that it’s not about just surviving through the end of stay at home or shelter in place. It’s about really rethinking your business model, and understanding if it’s a fit for the way that things will be in this new era. There are some industries that are significantly more effective than others, you know, retail food and beverage, anything with an in person component, I think one of the best things you can do is not just try to understand what you have to do legally, right to be able to reopen. But to really understand how you could serve your customers better in this new environment, like what are your customers going to be asking themselves? What are they going to be worried about? And is there an opportunity there to leverage what you’ve already built, to be, you know, to position yourself differently, to put yourself at the forefront of folks who really want to help their customers and also grow their business.

 

Julie Musgrave  21:39

I like your use of the word pivot earlier. Just try. It’s almost kind of forcing business owners and entrepreneurs to really get creative and find and maybe this can escalate their ideas that they hadn’t even realized before. So there’s a positive

 

Stephanie Sims  21:55

we could take as well. And I don’t remember, I think it’s Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin? The right intensity is the mother of a game. You know, it’s amazing how creative you can be when you don’t have any other choice. And while I, I certainly have a ton of sympathy for anyone who’s been impacted by COVID, I do think it’s going to help a lot of folks move to a very different level. And we’re going to see a lot of innovation coming out of this.

 

Julie Musgrave  22:22

I know you’ve discussed before this feeling of you have to know all the answers to every question that’s going to get thrown your way. And I and I think that’s especially important. Right now, in this atmosphere. We don’t know all of the answers, but I think a lot of us probably picture an episode of Shark Tank where they’re all asking you Well, what’s the answer to this? And if you don’t know it, then they walk away. And that can be so intimidating. So how should you go about it instead? You say that you don’t necessarily have to know all the answers.

 

Stephanie Sims  22:57

Exactly. And I think There’s a balance to strike there. Right, you need to be prepared. And so a lot of that preparation can come from having a very good understanding of your business and metrics, right, you know how you measure success inside your own business. But I think once you’ve done that preparation, I think there’s this aspect of being open, as opposed to seeing a question from left field as an attack. Maybe it’s also a little bit of reframing around how do you perceive that as an opportunity? Right, so if somebody asks you a question, I mean, again, people can be jerks. I’m not saying that you’re always gonna be nice in the way they asked the question. You know, why do you think you know, whatever? It’s a learning moment. Exactly. But I do think that if somebody asks a question that just hadn’t occurred to you. It’s always better to say it No. And I will find out. You know, here’s how here’s my initial reaction to that. Because sometimes people will ask a question that may not apply, or that shows that they haven’t understood what you’ve already explained to them and it’s an opportunity to say what sounds like there might be a misunderstanding. Let me clear that up. But if you don’t know the answer, I think you need to commit to finding it. But trying to pretend that you know something you don’t just make you look silly and frankly, kills any credibility you built up until that point, yeah. Okay, that reminds me to go back to pivot you just

 

Julie Musgrave  24:37

figure it out. You figure out on your way there. Let’s end with a personal thing. Who do you credit most for getting where you are today?

 

24:49

Oh, my goodness.

 

Stephanie Sims  24:51

Um, well, I think it’s, it’s got to be my family. You know, first my parents who not only obviously supported me as I traveled all around the world and decided I didn’t want to just stay in Texas. But also for letting me trusting me to help them with their business when they were ready to sell. And you know, now it’s my husband and my kids as well who give me the freedom to work from home and enjoy as my kids say, they’re all in online school right now. And quite often I’m like, Okay, I’m about to get on a call. You know, they laugh about it, but to put up with me, they’re like, you know, we know that look, we know that I’m about to get on video look. And, and so I think it’s just knowing that I have that support that’s been really, really instrumental in helping me push myself and try things that that I probably would never have tried if I didn’t feel like I have that backing me up.

 

Julie Musgrave  25:48

Support is I think something that we can all rely on right now and that we all need, especially during this time, but we certainly appreciate your advice. Stephanie, thank you so much for joining us today and Giving such great advice. I think we can all relate in so many ways. Stephanie, where can folks find you?

 

Stephanie Sims  26:05

If they’d like to reach out to me the best place is on LinkedIn. I’m Stephanie, Jason’s on LinkedIn. Or if they want to find out more about all the different things I’m up to, they can go to Stephanie sims.com Awesome. Thanks so much. You better take care.