Jason Cunningham tells us he is a CPA – a “car parking attendant.” Wait, he means “certified practising accountant.” That’s more like it, eh?
Seriously, though, Jason is a man of many talents. He’s a builder of businesses, proprietor of CPA firm The Practise, a radio personality, the “money man” on Channel 10, and a financial adviser for growth companies. Add to all that the fact that he’s an entertaining presenter.
At times he’s controversial, but he’s always uber informative.
We were fortunate enough to capture Jason’s presentation at Anthill’s Business Builders Big Night Out in July of 2013. The result is a webinar unlike all others. Jason speaks candidly, off-the-cuff, and without “rules.” The camerawork is guerrilla-style and the dialogue is scarcely rehearsed, but that’s just what the doctor ordered, because sometimes that’s the best way to get right to the heart of the matter.
Filmed on-the-fly in the kitchen of the York Butter Factory, a startup incubator in Melbourne, this Anthill Academy Course puts you in the front row as he minces no words sharing common dumb mistakes and three red hot tips on how to grow a saleable business.
Be forewarned, though: the location is seedy, the language is gruff, but never-mind all that, the advice Jason shares is worth its weight in gold – or perhaps, we mean to say in profits.
Jason pulls no punches in clarifying, from an accounting guru’s perspective, three key points that many entrepreneurs may be struggling to grasp.
Here’s a taste of what he had to say in this Anthill Academy Course.
1. What would Kerry Packer want you to do?
In the video, Jason explores some of the many reasons people go into business – to create something new, to make a difference in the world, to take control of your life – and explains why even those outwardly sensible reasons for getting into business can prove to be short-sighted.
“The reason we go into to business,” says Jason, “is to have the end in mind.”
By way of a compelling true story (starring Mark Bouris and Kerry Packer), Jason explains that having a business that is ready to sell means having a business that is profitable, regardless of whether you intend to actually sell it or not.
“Whether you sell that business or not is irrelevant. But imagine having a business that was ready for sale right now, which is making a truckload of money, with heaps of cash in the bank,” adds Jason.
“From day one, think about your endgame. Think about how you’re going to get out, whether you plan to give it to your kids or turn it over to someone else.”
Even if you never plan to sell it, a business that is worth something to someone else is the kind of business you want to own.
2. Budget is not a dirty word
Jason peppers his presentation with a few, shall we say, colourful words. Perhaps the most risqué of all, though, is the word budget.
Wait, no one loves that word right?
Nevertheless, like many of the other topics he covers in this course, Jason’s take on budgeting is unlike that of almost any common accountant. As he explains, cash flow enables entrepreneurs to break out of one of the most common traps business people fall into in starting up.
“A small business owner funds the lifestyle of the business, but the fact is, the business should fund your lifestyle,” explains Jason.
“But you can only do that with positive cash flow.”
Jason calls for having the right facilities to enable cash flow, in-place from day one of your business. After all, as he says, cash flow is the lifeblood of all businesses. This means you’ve got to have a budget, despite the negative connotations that word gives off.
Who would know that principle better than a CPA? Say it with him: b-u-d-g-e-t. (It’s okay to shudder, just a little).
3. Make it Mission: Possible
Jason tells us that, in order to succeed, every business needs a clearly-stated purpose. In the world of entrepreneurship, this equates to having a mission statement and cover values. Jason explains that while businesses can expect dramatic change over the years of its operation, so the way business is delivered can and will change.
This means you’ve got to have a vision going into the business.
“The world is changing, the landscape is ever changing,” he says.
Vision is malleable, and it helps you take into consideration where your business comes from and relate that to where it is going, regardless of what external factors have changed in the world. Vision also facilitates your company’s mission and core values, which tend to stay constant throughout the life of the business.
“Vision,” says Jason “is always changing.”