The Virtual CMO Podcast
Season 6, Episode 15
Hosted By: Eric Dickmann
With Guest: Rob te Braake
Our Featured Guest
Rob te Braake
Founder - Insight Matters
Rob te Braake is a Dutch serial entrepreneur and Founder of Insight Matters. He started his entrepreneurial career in the big corporate world full of management meetings, delegated responsibilities, and clear KPI’s.
With his more than a decade of experience in entrepreneurship and banking, backed up by his Master’s Degree in Finance & Strategy, he co-founded a technology & investment firm based in Beijing, China, and has guided dozens of digital companies as a financial adviser. Rob te Braake is location independent since 2018 and has since lived and worked from Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands. After running several technology and consulting ventures across the globe, he realized that there is one thing that excites him more than building his own business- it was helping other entrepreneurs get clarity and insight into their own business, their goals, and their financials.
According to Rob, the intersection between finance, strategy, and coaching is what excites him every single day.
"You Deserve the Same Insights as Corporate CEOs "
Insight Matters is a financial reporting & analysis firm for consultancies and agencies founded by Rob te Braake and Maj Juico. The finance of an online business may feel like a maze, and Insight Matters gives the best answers and solutions to their client's questions.
Insight Matters serves agencies & consultancies, e-Commerce, and other digital businesses with monthly financial reports, walkthrough videos, regular strategy calls, KPI dashboard and benchmarks, and executive summaries. The company's mission is to provide online business owners the same insight and control that large companies have- at a fraction of the costs.
Rob te Braake
It used to be just a boring P&L and a boring balance sheet, and that's it. Especially QuickBooks now adds a fairly decent dashboard. So it already helps you visualize it. What is still missing there is the interpretation of it. "
What We Discussed with Rob:
On this episode, host Eric Dickmann interviews Rob te Braake about financial metrics and why they matter to marketers. Here are some highlights of our conversation:
- [00:04:48] The issue that most entrepreneurs face- Rob te Braake believes that the most common problem that entrepreneurs face lie on two parts. One is that the data quality of their business is usually subpar. The second is that the data might be so overwhelming or so scattered that it becomes hard to identify the numbers that really should be tracked. Rob emphasizes that the things you've got to look at and the meaning of the numbers are entirely different. He then reminds entrepreneurs that before anything else, they should recognize the goals they are trying to achieve and how they will reach them.
- [00:06:34] Do businesses have a hard time adjust in spending when they get to profitability?- Yes, businesses encounter problems whenever they face profitability. Rob believes that there is a massive gap between the source of funding and utilizing profit. There's is often a massive disconnect between the amount of money on the balance sheet (the runway, the operational cash flow, etc.) and projected profits.
- [00:08:09] The overinvestment trend of businesses- According to Rob, there is one consistent trend among marketers, and that is companies overinvest in background area of their founder or CEO. For instance, if the founder is skilled with products, there is a higher probability of over-investing in products and product development. However, if the founder has a marketing background, it is more likely that his company will direct its effort towards strengthening its marketing program. Most of the time, founders over invest in areas where they are most familiar, confident, and comfortable, rather than focusing on the business' weaker points.
- [00:08:58] How does the human capital side of business play out nowadays?– On the hiring aspect, Rob doesn't see a clear trend for companies. Due to the pandemic, industries have considered shifting to remote work and opened themselves to engaging freelance talent. Like the investment option of many businesses, Rob explains that the recruiting decision often ties back to the founder's personality. He further advises businesses that if they have the cash and the capacity, it should be their top priority to recruit people to free up more time and grow faster.
- [00:15:07] How can businesses maintain their cash flow better?– First of all, if you are a service business, you have to be strict with your receivables. Having an organized payment system for your customers should be established so customers can pay faster and limit the risk of loss for the business. However, if the business is working with new clients, your system may depend on the market and its performance. Rob points out that it would always be best for clients to pay upfront first because this lessens the chance of people not paying after the product or service is delivered.
- [00:17:43] Making cash transactions as easy as possible- Some businesses disagree with credit card payments for small cash transactions because of all the hassle, time, and additional costs they incur before receiving the payments. However, Rob believes it is better to collect money up front than to chase it down later. It is shocking that many businesses still have not yet adopted a "payment first policy" to minimize their profit loss risks.
- [00:19:22] Are the tools that can monitor analytical capability good enough?- Rob commends analytical tools such as QuickBooks, Xero, and other similar platforms since they have steadily increased in their analytical capabilities over the years. Sites such as QuickBooks give users a fairly decent dashboard to easily monitor progress and changes. However, these platforms cannot interpret the numbers and explain them to business owners who don't have experience in bookkeeping and data interpretation. Understanding the data can help businesses recognize if their current processes are good or bad and shine light on what's working and not.
- [00:24:14] How can businesses identify if it's a bad quarter or a beginning of a big downward spiral?- Rob shares that for businesses to identify whether or not they are experiencing a fluctuation or a long-term downturn, it would be beneficial to check the historical patterns and identify if the current trend has also happened in the past. Business owners can also check how other companies are doing and recognize the measures others are taking. If you're in the service industry, the business can observe customer behaviour. If they are happy and optimistic, then probably things are going well. However, if people get jittery and are almost in panic mode, it is perhaps a good time to see what is going on. These indicators may not be foolproof indicators, but they are basic rules of thumb.