page title icon The Morning Upgrade Podcast Featuring Adam Lean

Welcome to the Morning Upgrade Podcast. Thank you for joining me for episode 2 where I talk to Adam Lean, the owner of The CFO Project. We talk about focusing on things that matter every day to move the needle on reaching goals. He shares about how you should organize your day to get more done and what will have a greater impact on increasing your earnings and growing your business.

Top Talking Points in This Episode

  1. The biggest mistakes business owners make when it comes to finances. 
  2. The importance of prioritizing your time to keep the ball rolling in your business.
  3. Figuring out the strategic things that a business owner should focus on to increase their earnings.

Links & Resources

Connect with Adam at The CFO Project

Share link for this episode.

Find The Books Mentioned on Kindle or Audible

  • The E Myth Revisited
  • The 1 Thing

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Transcription of this Episode

Announcer:

Welcome to the morning upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote. Where we feature casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan Cote:

Hey everyone. This is Ryan Cote and thanks for joining the Morning Upgrade podcast. Today with me is Adam Lean. Hey, Adam.

Adam Lean:

Hey, how are you doing Ryan?

Ryan Cote:

I’m doing good. Thanks for joining me here. I’m excited to talk to you. Why don’t you start out by talking about or telling us who you are, what you do, and then what you enjoy, what your interests are?

Adam Lean:

I own a couple of businesses, but they’re all geared around helping business owners make more money. I mean, that’s essentially what we do. So my main business is called the CFO project, CFO as in chief financial officer. We provide CFOs to small and medium-sized businesses to help them make better decisions so they can make more money. I mean, that’s really why businesses are in business. What you do with that money is up to you. The goal is to make as much of it as you can. And that’s what we help you do. A CFO’s job is to help a business make more money. I mean, the CFO of Apple that person’s job is to help the leadership team know how to make more money.

Well, every business needs that, but of course, most businesses can’t afford to have a six-figure CFO on their staff, but they need something. And usually, they turn to accountants or bookkeepers, but the problem is accountants and bookkeeper’s job is to record what happened in the past. They’re not getting paid to help the business strategize and help them make more money. I mean, that’s just simply not what they’re getting paid to do, and they’re not trained in that, so they need something. And so that’s where we come into play. We’ll just work with you on a regular basis and help you make more money.

Ryan Cote:

Sounds like a much needed service for sure. What do you do for fun?

Adam Lean:

I’m going to sound really boring because I don’t know if I have a list of things that I do for fun other than just my wife and I like to travel. I think that’s probably our number one thing I like to do for fun. So it’s been sort of a pain in the past several months, stuck in the house, not being able to go anywhere with COVID. I like to read and I like to watch TV. Sounds really boring, doesn’t it?

Ryan Cote:

You have me thinking, those are all similar to me. I think a lot of entrepreneurs don’t have hobbies. I actually came to the realization, I don’t have any hobbies except for like reading and, of course, hanging out with family and traveling, but like no hobbies that I do by myself or do with other people. And so that’s why I picked up golf. And I wouldn’t say I play, I’m physically there like swinging, but I don’t know if I would define what I do as playing yet cause I’m pretty bad, but I realized I needed a hobby that can carry me into my later years. And so I think what you said is very common. Most entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of hobbies, so something to think about.

So you have an interesting perspective. So this morning upgrade podcast is about personal development and growth, but also like entrepreneurship, which to me is all tied together. But I want to ask you this question, cause you have a unique perspective since you work with so many different businesses and I’m sure you get asked this a lot, but I’m just curious. I’m going to ask it anyway. What is the biggest mistake you see, besides not knowing their numbers, but what is the biggest mistake that you see small business owners making in terms of their finances?

Adam Lean:

In terms of their finances? That’s a good question because I think there’s a lot of mistakes that business owners make, but it all leads into making mistakes with their finances. The easy answer is they don’t understand their finances because most business owners are not experts in finance they’re experts in the craft that their business does. So somebody that likes to cut a hair starts a hair salon, not because their financial business expert is because they know that industry, same with somebody that’s a great cook or chef or somebody that understands plumbing. They start a plumbing business because they know plumbing, not because they wake up one day thinking I’m going to start a business and let me just pick something and learn that trade. And so because of that, they spend all their time focused on the operations of the business and not the strategic things to help the business make more money. 

If we look at the hairstylist, for example, if they spent all their time focused on styling hair, then they just have a job that they own. And they’re probably not going to be making a ton of money from that job. It’s just a really stressful job that they own. They need to approach it from a business standpoint and say, how can I get more customers? And how can I get more leads in the door that will turn into customers? How can I get my existing customers to come to purchase more? How can I make it more of a profit from every customer? And you know, all of these things that are easy to ignore when you’re only focused on the day to day operations of the business. And that, of course, leads into the financials, because they’re not making enough money. I was on a call with a prospect a couple of days ago and they said the same thing that I hear over and over and over it’s, I’m working so hard but why is the money not in the bank account? Where does it go? What am I doing this for? And that’s frustrating.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, I’m sure a lot of our listeners can resonate with that. Ballantine, the marketing agency that I run with my family, I’m fortunate in that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. And my brother Scott, his strength is operations and finance. And so he understands all that, he understands what the numbers mean. And so I don’t have to worry about learning that. If someone doesn’t have a Scott in their business, well, you know, that’s where a service like yours comes in. But I think understanding the numbers is definitely important. So I like that answer. So what’s the hardest thing about running your business and what are you doing about it?

Adam Lean:

The hardest thing about running my business is not having enough time for doing everything I want to do. And so that forces me to sort of prioritize what I do on a regular basis. And I’ve gotten really good. I’m not where I want to be but I think over the past several years, I’ve gotten really good at working on things that move the ball , working on things that matter. I read a lot of books and there’s a lot of different perspectives on how you should organize your day or your life. I mean, there are books like the 12 week year, I think it is, or getting things done by David Allen co. There are so many different perspectives, but it all boils down to understanding where you want your business to go in the longterm and then backing out from there what needs to happen this year? What needs to happen this 12 months and then what needs to happen this month and then what needs to happen this week and then what needs to happen today? Every single thing that I work on, has to be able to benefit somehow that long-term vision for the business.

Ryan Cote:

It’s like the 80/20, you’re trying to figure out what the 20% you could work on is going to move the company forward to 80% of the way.

Adam Lean:

That’s right. And I can’t remember who said this. I didn’t come up with this, but I think maybe Tim Ferris did, but you have to identify the… Like, if you think of a lot of dominoes lined up, you have to identify the main domino that if you knock it off will knock over the most dominoes. And so one thing that’s first that you need to focus on that will help you make everything else easier.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. I think that’s the one thing, isn’t it? The book by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, The One Thing

Adam Lean:

I think you’re right. Yeah.

Ryan Cote:

It’s a good book recommendation. It’s definitely worth reading. I think that’s a common struggle that most business owners face is, there’s a lot of things you could work on, but there’s things you should be working on and things you shouldn’t be working on. What should you be working on? And how can you delegate the rest? I think you find the answer to that, like the perfect recipe, that’s where things start to really move forward.

Adam Lean:

And that’s the other thing with people that start a business because they’re experts in the craft, they enjoy the craft of the business. So that’s what they want to work on but it may not be the most important thing to work on. And this is why a lot of business owners feel stuck.

Ryan Cote:

You’re making me think of another book now, E-Myth.

Adam Lean:

Yes. The E-Myth is a great book. I highly recommend that because most business owners like the book says, or he calls them technicians. They’re great at the technical side of the business. A guy that knows heating and air and all they do is focus on heating and air. That’s being a great technician, but in order to grow the business, you have to become a manager being able to oversee technicians, but then you also have to become a, I think he calls it an entrepreneur, somebody that helps the business grow forward with a vision.

Ryan Cote:

Yeah. It’s a good book. It’s definitely a good book. It just ties into exactly what you’re saying. So let’s talk about, let’s go more towards personal development now. I’ve got a couple of questions for you then we can wrap up. You can tell everyone how people can find you. Huge in the morning routines, hence the name morning upgrade. I’ve got my whole set of tasks that I do every morning. I’m going on almost three months straight and not missing a day. So now I don’t want to break the streak, but what is your morning routine look like? Do you have one? And if yes, what does it look like?

Adam Lean:

I do have one, but it’s not sophisticated, but I’m a morning person. I love the mornings. I get so much more creative. I get so much more done. I like to wake up no later than 6:30 because I like having time to myself. And the first thing I’ll do is make coffee and then sit. And I usually read for about 45 minutes to an hour. Now don’t do this mode. I don’t necessarily read that long most days, but I try to, I’m more energized in the morning. And so I liked being able to read and 99% of the time it’s a business book. I just enjoy reading businessy type books. I don’t know why, but I just do and I get more creative more creativity, and being able to sort of get into my day, if I have to start the day off with just being energized by those books.

Ryan Cote:

I think it’s a perfect morning routine. Everyone’s routine is different. You start off by, you have a ritual of making coffee, which I do too after I go through my whole routine but

Adam Lean:

I couldn’t function without coffee

Ryan Cote:

I just like the taste too. Now it’s like, I got my whole thing down with the coffee I’m going to buy and the way I make it. And so it’s a nice little ritual, kind of kicks off the workday.

Ryan Cote:

You do it yourself? Like you grind the coffee and coffee beans and all that?

Ryan Cote:

No, I’m not that sophisticated with it. I buy ground coffee, but I found the one that I liked, like McDonald’s premium roast. I’m not sure why, I don’t go there and get it, they sell it in the stores. I’ve tried other ones and for some reason, to me, it tastes the best. I love reading too. I’m the same way with books. My dad tries to get me to read fiction. Do you want to relax? And it doesn’t always have to be business. And I’m like, yeah, I know, but I enjoy it. And I tried reading a fiction book and I got restless and like you said, you enjoy it. It’s just not work, you know?

Adam Lean:

Right. For the longest time, I felt something was off with me because I don’t like watching movies all that much or reading fiction books or anything like that. I do love watching TV just because it helps me. I don’t know. I just couldn’t get into the stuff. Like I’ve never seen Star Wars for example. And I’ve heard about it. And my wife’s seen every single one. It’s like, I just can’t get into that because I don’t know.

Ryan Cote:

Well, self-education is very important. So I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, so I’m going to ask you one more question and then we can wrap up by you telling us what the best website is for people to visit you if they want to learn more about you and your business. So let’s talk about the perfect day. Do you ever thought about what the perfect day looks like for you or elements of the perfect day and if yes, what does that look like for you?

Adam Lean:

Like in terms of a perfect workday? Cause I feel like I have a perfect workday and a perfect non-workday.

Ryan Cote:

That was a great question. So I would say perfect workday. Cause that’s like the most day-to-day realistic thing. I mean, of course, perfect day, I fly to Italy and I have the best coffee and the best food but like, you know, obviously workday.

Adam Lean:

So my perfect workday is when I get to work on things that are in my element, the things that I enjoy doing, I’m a high achiever. I like being able to achieve things. And I like to be able to work on things that are in my element. I don’t get to do that most days, because again, I’ve got to focus on things that actually move the business forward and what’s in my element may not necessarily be the thing that moves the business forward this week. But the perfect day is when I get to work on something that I feel in the zone and I feel is in my element, which is creating products and tools and systems for the business or for clients, is what energizes me. I like being able to create things, I like making business and money and financial stuff just easy for people. And I do that through creating these tools and books and guides and stuff like that. So spending most of my day doing that is a perfect day.

Ryan Cote:

You’re an entrepreneur, creating things is another common trait. So that’s awesome. All right, so if someone wants to learn more about your business or about you, what’s the best website or the best way for them to connect with you?

Adam Lean:

The best place to go is thecfoproject.com, that’s T H E C F O project.com and read all about us. And there’s a bright green button on the top right where it says book a call. And that’s actually booking a call on my calendar. So anybody wants to get in touch with me, that’s the best place to do it.

Ryan Cote:

Awesome. Well, thanks Adam for joining, and thanks to everyone for listening. Talk to you soon.

Announcer:

Thanks for listening to the morning upgrade podcast. Please subscribe and review and don’t forget to visit us at morningupgrade.com for more content.

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