Small Business Squad

Beyond The Launch: Gathering Information-Simply

September 19, 2022 Vincent Aguirre
Beyond The Launch: Gathering Information-Simply
Small Business Squad
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Small Business Squad
Beyond The Launch: Gathering Information-Simply
Sep 19, 2022
Vincent Aguirre

Access to information about your business and customers can be captured with the proper tools, simply.  Each purchase contains valuable information to help you operate your business efficiently and increase revenue. 

Our guest, Jonathan McPike, a founding partner of Haven, a software company focused on Main Street businesses.  He will discuss with Ken and Vince how gathering information through an integrated program can simplify team communication, cash flows, and forecasting increasing execution and growth. 

Like Distinct, Haven is about supporting small businesses that are the backbone of our communities.

Show Notes Transcript

Access to information about your business and customers can be captured with the proper tools, simply.  Each purchase contains valuable information to help you operate your business efficiently and increase revenue. 

Our guest, Jonathan McPike, a founding partner of Haven, a software company focused on Main Street businesses.  He will discuss with Ken and Vince how gathering information through an integrated program can simplify team communication, cash flows, and forecasting increasing execution and growth. 

Like Distinct, Haven is about supporting small businesses that are the backbone of our communities.

Vincent Aguirre: Hello, everyone, my name is Vince Aguirre. I am the host of the Small Business Squad podcast and president of Distinct. Today I have with me, Ken, our regular co-host, and Jonathan McPike, who is a co-founder of Haven. Havens a company on a mission to revitalize MainStreet. Much like Distinct, Haven believes small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the foundation of their communities. And I'm really excited to talk with Jonathan and Ken today about data in business and some of the things going on with Haven. So without further ado, we're gonna bring Ken on and Jonathan on to get some introductions going and jump right in this conversation. How are you guys doing?

Ken Eitel: We're doing great, Vince. Tell us a little bit Vince, about how you became acquainted with Jonathan.

Vince: That is a great question. So at the time, I was going through a cohort of a pre accelerator by the name of GE beta. And Jonathan was my mentor, in a way, we have kind of a speed mentoring session, he came in and talked with us about our business helping us out. And then shortly after their job to correct me if I'm wrong, he also went through the program. And we kind of reconnected at that point. And here we are today, trying to talk more about what we're doing, and how, how G-beta really got us to this point.

Ken: Well, it's surprising the number of ways that entrepreneurs and startups and people who have a desire to start businesses can become connected, many, many different ways. And I've been interested in Jonathan's work, because of the information that can be gathered through different types of programs. I'm most aware and knowledgeable about point of sale. But I think there's some other types of information that Jonathan feels strongly about that need to be gathered as well. So what type of information do you feel Jonathan, not just through the sales process, but otherwise in the business is important to gather to help people be successful, and what I call really let your business speak to you.

02:09 How To Be Successful By Gathering The Right Information
Jonathan McPike: Sure, yeah. In order to use information and data about your business, you want it to tell a story. And when you have a good story, you don't want to leave anything out, right. So that means you want to capture information at every point in the story. And that starts before you even have your customer, right. So when you're talking to people, when you're out advertising, or when you're networking with people, we want to make sure that you capture that information, even if it's about someone who isn't even your customer yet, which is what CRMs are great for, you want to make sure that you get that information into your CRM so that you can access it later, when you get to the point of sale, or when you're sending an invoice. Doing that to the same system allows you to track that information as well. And then also getting reviews from your customers, they can say, well, I really liked this thing, I don't like this so much. Or maybe this could be improved. You want to gather that information too. So that every single step in the process of working with your customer, you're getting some feedback and can understand what you can improve on.

Ken: So from the sales process, the things that you do, and we're not really talking so much about accounting here, as we are some of the processes that go around gathering this information. But what then information comes from your system or a point of sale system that can be usable in managing your business?

3:30 Information That Can Be Used In Managing Your Business
Jonathan: Sure, in an a point of sale system, you can get a lot of good information both about one particular transaction with your customer. But you can also get information about all of your transactions in aggregate. So some of this is going to depend on whether you're really a volume business or you're more of a margin business. If you're more of a volume business where you're doing a lot of transactions, then that high level aggregate data is very important to you and you want to make sure that you can get some insights out of that. Because that can help you make decisions about what you're going to offer and when and what your pricing should or should not be and what seems to work for you. If you're less of a volume business more of a margin business and you're more focused on relationships, then sometimes your data tends to look a little bit more anecdotal. And you want to store information about a particular customer, so that when you're interacting with that particular customer, then you can serve up things that are relevant to them.

Ken: So I know, Vince it's our experience through website design. And your experience has been that there's a lot of valuable information that can be gathered from postings on social media and tell us a little bit about information that you can gather through a good strong website.

Vince: Yeah, I think a good website and a good CRM can go hand in hand. You know, from a website side of things. You can really depending on the tools you use and how you integrate them. You can track what your customers or potential customers are doing on your site. Oftentimes, you can import that into a CRM or keeps keep track of that somewhere separately, and really learn how to optimize your site, much like a CRM can help you optimize your business, your relationships with your customers.

Ken: So I think I've noticed in some in my discussions and some of my work that many small business owners, and I guess my may even call micro business owners tend to be hesitant about technology, they don't see that it's number one necessary, but that it's complicated. And they're just a little bit fearful of that. I know the title of this, and has been, is gathering information simply. And I know that's something that Jonathan, I believes in his programs, talk a little bit about how you counter that fear, or that hesitancy to want to implement and pay for, frankly, some of the programs that that you your firm has, Jonathan?

6:00 Don't Overcomplicate Simple Things
Jonathan: Sure. So maybe let's define that fear a little bit more, it kind of comes in a couple of different flavors, you do have some people who say, Well, gosh, I'm just not a tech person. I'm not very tech savvy. And that's the person who doesn't feel very comfortable with technology, writ large, whatever it is any kind of tech solution, they're a little bit hesitant, a little bit afraid of it and find it intimidating. And they're reluctant to use it. That's, that's very true. But a second flavor that it comes in is related, but it's not quite the same. And that might be some someone who's generally not afraid of technology. And they may have a lot of software that they use they're perfectly comfortable with. But then you show them something new. And they'll either take to it or they won't. And a lot of times, what would that determining factor is information overload, you show them something that's simple and easy to use. And they say, Okay, this is simple, I've got it, just get out of my way, and let me do it. But if you show them something complicated, and something that gives them information overload, then they just shut down, it's too much friction, it's too much hassle, and they just won't use it. They might be perfectly tech savvy, but the solution just sort of doesn't fit them very well. I personally am in this category, if you show me something is too complicated, I'm out, I just won't use it. It does need to be simple. It does need to be right sized. So with our customers, we come across that all the time, especially with small businesses. And for people who are sort of in bucket number one, they're just sort of not you know, they're they're not very comfortable with technology. You just have to show them, we like to just show them what we have and say, well, this actually is pretty simple. It has these things. Here's how you think through it, here's how you use it. And then they say, oh, okay, well, that's, that's very simple. I'm all set. And that's what I need. For people who sort of had that information overload problem. Again, same type of thing, it has to be simple. You want to show them features that they need. And you don't want to give them a whole lot of bells and whistles that they don't need. They're going to have all these things in their interface that they're not going to use. And they're going to wonder why is this here, like, should I be I'm not using this, am I really getting all the value that I'm paying for. But if it's there, maybe I shouldn't be using it, maybe I need to go hire someone and pay someone to show me how to use it. And now I'm just going to add to the expense. So with Haven, we try to simplify that and stay away from all that. So people can get value out of the product and get back to work.

Vince: Honestly, a shameless plug on your behalf from me. That's what I really love about Haven, I've looked at CRMs for years, and oftentimes try to suggest the CRM to a small business. But it's very clear when you load haven that it's not trying to do everything. It's not trying to overwhelm you with bells and whistles. It's doing what needs to be done. And it's doing it well in a simple interface that I believe is good for small business owners to easily pick up so just want to plug the opportunity right there. And I truly love the platform.

Jonathan: Yeah, thank you appreciate that. Yeah, I think there actually is maybe a reason why that's the case. A lot of software is designed for specialists, right? It's designed for someone who does one thing all day long. Because if you think about a software software is a business, you're designing for large organizations, because that's where you think the money is. And they all have high headcount. They have specialization of labor, and they have people who do one thing all day long, and they want a lot of bells and whistles. And then if you're the software company, you just kind of cross your fingers and hope that if you give it to a small business, they'll shoehorn this massive software package into their small business, and you'll get some extra revenue. But that's the cherry on top, the Sunday is the large organizations. And so and that's the case, software just isn't designed with a small business in mind, and it doesn't do what they need to do. And they find it very frustrating.

Vince: Yeah and I've seen some CRMs that cater pretty well to small businesses just become corrupted, and go for the enterprise money. And something that works well suddenly is three times more expensive and just doesn't work for small businesses anymore. So yeah, it's definitely a interesting problem there.

Ken: So for the Those who might be uneducated in acronyms. What are you basically what a CRM is?

Vince: Go for Jonathan, what you mentioned, why don't you explain to CRM and also give a pitch on how people can learn more about Haven?

10:14 What is a CRM?
Jonathan: So a CRM is just customer relationship management. And back in the old day, back in the olden days, you might have a program called act where you would put all of your clients information and and that's how you would keep track of it. And then over time, more and more of these types of software solutions started to come on the market. And they're referred to as CRM solutions. So again, it's a way for you to track your customers information, and track your interactions with your customers. So that you get that data and you don't just forget to record it, and you have access to it later on, it's a good way to stay up with your customer or your client. And if you have a lot of clients, for example, and you're going back and forth between them, sometimes you just forget and need to refresh your recollection as to what you last did with that particular customer, so that you don't lose a step. And when you talk to your customer, you look like you know what you're talking about, and you understand what's important to them. And they don't feel like they're an afterthought. So that's what CRMs are. They are ubiquitous and enterprise land. This is what Salesforce does. This is what HubSpot does. Large organizations are very sophisticated in how they track their customer relationships. Smaller businesses may not have access to that software, or they may find that it's too complicated. They've been slower to adopt it, because it's complicated, and it doesn't fit very well. And so that's one of the problems that Haven has tried to remedy. We don't want people keeping contact information in their cell phone, or if they're using Outlook for their email, it shouldn't be there, or a spreadsheet that's just cumbersome, it's not a great way to secure that data and be able to get value out of it in the future. So in Haven, all of your core business tools are in one interface. So that's everything from the accounting features like estimates, invoices, payments, general ledger, financial statements, all of those types of features. But then also your non accounting features like inventory management, products, management, messaging, but also importantly, your CRM, you want to have these things integrated, because in your business, your left hand should always know what the right hand is doing. When you open up your CRM and you see your your customers contact information and your history, you should also see something about your transactions and Okay, well, I've sent this person an invoice and they haven't paid it. Okay, well, that's a good reminder that maybe I need to follow up on that invoice and invoice and get the money in the door because cash is king. So all these things should be simple, but they should also be integrated. So you get the value of all those things speaking to each other.

Ken: So you say on your website, take back control of your business, no more feeling overwhelmed as events pass you by that billing issue could be one of those. What you're, and you've talked a little bit about all the different programs and your focus on small business. But you've mentioned in some of our discussions, that part of the problem is there's too many tools available. How do you sort through that? Do you take days or hours or refer referrals? How do you find out what works for you? What's the process?

13:12 How To Find Out What Really Works For You
Jonathan: Yeah, so when you're thinking about software, and it just waits for the market has developed these days, sort of everyone is a specialist, and you have these very, very niche solutions that do one thing, and that's about it. And if that's what you're going to go with, then you're going to have to find a niche solution for pretty much every task that your business has to accomplish. And if you're going to do that, you have to get them all integrated. A lot of tools will support integration so that you can link them with other tools, but they might not integrate with the tools you want to use. And if they don't know you've got to hire someone, or you got to pay someone to create a custom solution for you. And that's going to add time and expense. So you want to go that route, you can it's an option. But the other option you want to consider is - is there a simplified all in one approach that I can go with that will work better? For me that's that's the Haven strategy. And so whichever approach you want to take, when you are evaluating software, you want to ask yourself a couple of questions. Number one, does this tool have what I need? What are my actual needs? What do I have to accomplish? And will this software actually do that? Does it have something that at least purports to speak to this concern or this thing that I have this challenge that I've got to overcome? And you don't necessarily want to have too long of a list because you may think that you have some must haves that really aren't must haves, they're really nice to haves. So think about what your must haves are what do you have to have? What do you have to get from your software, and make sure whatever you're looking at at least checks the box. The second thing you need to do. Some people I think forget this part, but the second step is to say okay, if it has everything I need, does it have a whole bunch of things that I don't need? Because if it does, now you're gonna have that information overload problem, you're gonna have all these bells and whistles that you don't need And you might be paying more than you should for stuff that you don't use. If you see a lot of stuff that just isn't relevant to you, that's actually a red flag. And it suggests that whoever developed this particular tool wasn't really developing it with you in mind, they didn't have your specific use case in mind. And you're taking a bit of a risk that maybe it won't fit you very well and won't actually do what you want it to do in a very efficient way. So again, you want to make sure that has what you need. And then you want to be very careful about making sure that it doesn't have a ton of things that you don't need. And then the third thing is just try it out. When you use it, do you like it? Or you tell I hate this, like, if you hate it, you need to get rid of it right away. If you don't like some, you have to give it a little bit of time, but not too much. If you don't get comfortable with a tool in pretty short order, then you very well may not and you want to move on to other things. So keep those those concerns in mind whenever you're evaluating software.

Ken: So what tools do you have in your toolbox currently, that you feel really speak to the owner and help them take back control their business? You mentioned invoicing. But what what about the tools that you offer? What helps you take back your business? And then what again, what I like to say, help it speak to you so you have a better understanding of what's happening?

16:32 What Helps You Take Back Your Business
Jonathan: Sure. So I would say that there are a couple pieces to that question. In terms of what we offer, we sort of have two buckets, right, there are sort of our accounting related features, and then sort of the non accounting related features. On the accounting side, it has to be there and has to work really well. And you don't even have to be the person who uses it right, you could hire a bookkeeper or an accountant or fractional CFO, Haven allows that person to link into your account. So they can make some adjusting entries to your ledger. And you may not really have to worry about it. So accounting is one of those things that a lot of people just don't like, don't want to learn don't want to deal with, it takes time. And it takes time away from whatever earns the revenue, right. So you might feel like you're just drowning. If you have to slog through something you really don't like, Haven makes it possible for you to delegate that to your outside professional advisors really easily. So you can go in and get your financial statements and say, Okay, I see I'm on track here, this is great. And my bookkeepers handling these entries, perfect, I'm out, I'm going to go back to what I want to be doing. So getting things off your plate that someone else can be handling for you. And having software that facilitates that, that process is a good way of getting your head back above water. Onto the non accounting side, one particular feature that we have is just our basic task management feature. And think of simple to do lists or a Kanban board that allows you to drag and drop things from my to do list to something that's in progress to something that's done, that actually seems to be very motivating. If you have a bunch of things that you have that you still have to do. And they're all floating around in your head that can drive you nuts, and it can add a lot of stress. And the old days, you would write a to do list on paper, right, and now you probably put in an app, but getting it out of your mind and down on paper or down in an application just sort of allows you to relax, you know, you're not going to forget it, you know it's written down somewhere, you're gonna be reminded of it, it's not going to fall through the cracks. Taking that stress and anxiety off your plate really frees up a lot of your mental bandwidth and allows you to get back to being productive. So the task management feature is one of the things that really does help a lot of people who sometimes are not as organized as they might like to be, really get back into control of things. And then I would say all the other features because they're designed to be simple, allow you to spend less time taking those actions. And when you free up time now you just feel like you can accomplish a whole lot more.

Ken: As I have worked more with Vince and the staff, which is of a different generation than I am. I've had to get past that keeping my To Do lists and tasks on a yellow pad. And it was effective. I mean, I that's what I did. I wrote it all down. So now I'm having to learn to work with a program where you have all those lists in the computer, so to speak. So I'm getting there, they're helping me, but I'm sure that small business people today need those kinds of things. And it may not work to do it in paper, as well as it did for me, although I had a lot of notepads.

Jonathan: No one knows what's on your notepad, you know.

Ken: That's true. So, I've told you we've put when we've talked, you know, in our former business we were fortunate to be able to buy a system that was point of sale. But saying that, you know, we started up when I bought my family's business It was a copies of thermofax to build an NCR posting machine that's primal. But the point is we bought a system that was computerized, it wasn't, we just built, that's all it did. And then we started looking at this one particular system that was really robust, and I got cold feet. So I bought a better version of what I had. And I should have done the other, I should have taken that step that we talked about, people just don't want to do. And when I did, I found that I could take and take the basic program, but my vendor, who I also paid for service, or to protect my lease, they gradually added capsules, and we eventually over three or four years had a fully integrated, general ledger system with payroll, checks, accounts receivable, all that kind of stuff. You're still kind of in your you're starting phase a little bit, you're focused. I know, Jonathan, on the features we've talked about, but what are the things do you see, number one, what else can I gather from your invoices? We do I have my customers emails, do I have those types of things? And you've talked about where you might be going. So we'll talk a little bit about your future. And what kind of information I can get now, but from a marketing standpoint, but what are you looking at as you go down the road?

21:23 What Is Haven And How Will It Help You Manage Your Business
Jonathan: At the moment, you can certainly get basic information, you have your customers email address, have their contact information, have their purchase history and their payment history, the types of things that are the types of data that you want to have to make smart decisions about how you'll interact with that customer in the future that you can all get and store in Haven over the longer term. When you look at Haven's user interface right now, really, what you're looking at is sort of the tip of the iceberg, you only see the UI that we've built, what you don't see is the robust data model that we have behind Haven. And so we will ultimately allow you to capture an awful lot of data about your customer transactions and about the operations of your business. And then we're going to take that bit that data, and we're going to give it right back to you. You know, these days, a lot of companies will just take that data, and they'll sell it to some third party. And that shouldn't happen. Like that's not the right thing to do. The right thing is to take data about your business, run whatever analysis we're going to do on it, and then give wrap it and give it back to you. So you can take that information and use it to make your business more efficient and more profitable. That's ultimately the direction that we're going. And we will probably do that in conjunction with a lot of outside professional advisors. Right now hit Haven makes it possible for you to invite your bookkeeper or your accountant or fractional CFO onto the platform and help you do those types of things. And a lot of professional advisors are in the business of helping you tell a story about your business that makes sense to you so that you can make good strategic decisions. And over time, our data model and our analyses will get more and more robust if they can do more and more to help you become more successful.

Ken: So you've chosen to focus on small business, Vince has chosen that his focus is small business, that's his core. Why small business? Why not larger? What do you like about it

23:18 The Success In Small Business
Jonathan: So it's a great question. Because if you look around the country right now, almost no one's happy with the way things are going. Whether it's its politics, it's the economy, its inflation, its media, its lockdowns and pandemics. There are so many things that so many people aren't happy about. There are some very interesting polls that come out that they ask the American people, what institutions do, you still have trust and confidence in and those numbers are in the basement, across the floor, people are upset with all major institutions in American society. But you read those same polls, the number one institution that the American people still have trust and confidence in his small business. That seems to be like the only thing that we as the American people still agree on that we actually get right, despite all the headwinds that small businesses face. And when you think about small businesses, and what they do and what they are, they really are the backbone of their of their communities, especially in small towns. You know, when a small business goes under, you've got some people who just lost their jobs. And when you're weathering a spell of unemployment, this won't always happen to you, but you are certainly at higher risk for all kinds of bad things like mental health, depression, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, sometimes domestic violence, even those things don't always happen. But again, when you're unemployed, you're at a higher risk for those things. And when that happens in greater numbers, you get a lot of really bad negative ripple effects from small businesses going under. So if you want people to live good lives and and have sort of a dignified way of life and work that is meaningful to them. Small businesses are really how you get that so you can solve an awful lot of problems and do an awful lot of good If you can strengthen small businesses in America, so that's why we got into the business. And that's why we started Haven. We want to be able to support them and everything that they do. And we think if we can help make them more successful, we'll make a lot of other people really successful, too.

Ken: I just think that's a great answer, then I'm going to assume you agree with all that? I know I do.

Vince: I absolutely agree to that, that small businesses are the leading driver employment, right. And that a larger amount of the income or revenue a small business generates stays in the community. Right. So they are all around the biggest housing, and community, cities across the nation. I was been across the world.

25:50 The Importance Of Having An Accountant In Small Business
Ken: Yeah, I agree. And I, my family was in small business for generations, and it in the same community, and, it was very satisfying, you grew up with community service, you grew up taking care of the folks work for you. And, you can make a fairly good living in a small town. If you look around that the dollar generals and the dollar trees, and those folks, they do okay, in small town, and there's loyalty here. And that's the other piece is there's loyalty among your customers. So one of the things you say, several times on your website is, keep it simple. That's one of my favorite terms, I usually add another s that stands for stupid, but the point being is the K-I-S-S principle is something that's terribly important. And I think a small business guy can get so tied up, I really like your message of a system that uses your professional advisors. When I have consulted, and Vince knows this, get yourself an accountant, you know, get yourself, that's the first thing you need to do, because it's going to keep you out of trouble. And even if you have a program that's widely sold, you still can't set it up if you don't understand accounting. And there's nothing worse than a general ledger that doesn't agree or has things the wrong place and tried to correct it. So have those professionals come around you have those advisors have those mentors, because that's especially important for a small business person, and there are resources out there that can help. And you need to not not think you can do it all yourself. Because that's how you grow in the future is to have that.

Ken: So as we close here, tell me, tell me what else you'd like to talk to our listeners about Jonathan and how they can contact you.

Jonathan: Sure, yeah, people can reach out to us at our website, which is They can also follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn. And we really do love talking to small businesses, we're early enough in the life of our company that we still get to do that we can sit down with them face to face, if we're in the same city. If not, we're happy to do zoom calls. We love talking to our small businesses, we love hearing about their stories. We love hearing about their challenges. And whether we're the right solution for them or not, sometimes they're looking for something completely unrelated to what they do. But we might know someone that we can get them in touch with. We want to do everything we can to make them successful. So the last thing I would say is if to your listeners reach out to us, we'd love to talk.

Ken: Well, I've enjoyed our discussions, and I'm sure we'll have many more. Vince, is there anything else she'd like to mention? Talk about small business squad as you close this out?

Vince: Yeah, I want to thank you and Jonathan, both for being on the show today. John, glad to have you back. At some point, we're thinking about doing a roundtable in the future. I think it'd be really engaging and hopefully we can we can plan that. So for your encouragement, Jonathan, I believe he joined Facebook, but if he didn't do well, and if you're listening and you haven't, make sure you find out more about the Small Business Squad, or find us on Facebook, and Youtube as well. Yeah Ken take away.

Ken: I just again, want to thank Jonathan Vance, thank you for facilitating session in two weeks is with Paul Dale who is a franchisee of McDonald's, and he's going to talk about hiring and programs that help retention. So thank you, everybody for watching!