Starting the conversation…

How do we use financials, showing us a single point in time of past performance, to set future direction and stay on track to growth goals?

Host: Jessica Dewell
Guest: Steve Merager

What You Will Hear:

Financials tell a story about your company.

There are many parts to pull together to create a check in to your growth strategy.

Not knowing can create fear based thinking.

One (of many) element of a highly effective practice using financials for growth.

Be able to ask the question: How do we…

Linear versus non-linear thinking – how to develop both as skills for growth-minded leaders.

People like to pay their bills – they want to know you want to get paid.

Live Audience Question: I’ve read recently an article about how successful people view money in a different way – at the same time non-linear and logical… and that was confusing because to me those two are opposite, what is your thought about that?

The responsibility of our role – who can be real with?

When diverse is too diffuse – negatively impacting growth because of too many cooks in the kitchen.

Use financial information to assess competitive advantage.

Live Audience Question: What are the most common financial blind spots executives have, that you have noticed?

What makes it BOLD to use past business performance and figure out leaps to new levels of growth?

Notable and Quotable:


Steve Merager 3:49
There’s a sensibility that I print out all these numbers, and all these reports, and I just see just this flurry of numbers, and they don’t make any sense. My eyes sort of cross when I look at them. But the thing about that really is that if it’s done right, it’s the story of your business.

Steve Merager 4:26
A bookkeeper is fantastically important because they’re the ones that frame out the story.

Steve Merager 5:08
The one thing about our businesses is we have limited resources. There’s a finite amount of resources. It’s critical to put our arms around what those resources are, and then we can use them.

Jess Dewell 5:36
Sometimes we think we have more. We think we have different because we’re just not looking at it. And sometimes it’s easier to not know. The only downside with not knowing is that it shows up in other ways, doesn’t it? It shows up in the fact that decisions are not being made timely. It shows up in that opportunities to either make more money, or to increase savings, also get missed.

Steve Merager 6:19
There can be fear based thinking. It really stops us so that fear is , “I’m not successful,” or “I’m not going to be successful,” or “the product or service that I’m offering is not useful.”

Steve Merager 7:07
I think the most scariest things for us as humans is the not knowing.

Jess Dewell 11:05
I have to laugh out loud because anytime anybody says that they’re anything, right? Oh I’m the expert at this. I’m a professional I’m that. We have a big blind spot.

Steve Merager 12:54
We don’t want to get so microscopically detailed in what we’re recording that we’re just taking up time and increasing the complexity of what we’re trying to do.

Jess Dewell 13:25
When we know we have blind spots and we can accept that they exist, what that allows us to do is then rely on information that is not coming from our strengths. It’s coming from the strength of those that we bring together at the table.


Jess Dewell 13:57
Knowing means that we can change effectively.

Steve Merager 15:15
If we look at history, two people could be sitting right next to each other and see the same event, and describe it differently. And they both could be 100% correct. But because of their biases, because simply their viewpoint of where the eyeballs are, they could see things differently.

Steve Merager 16:04
The world wants us to believe that there are binary choices. It’s either this or this. I typically reject that immediately because it’s typically not true. It might be between those two points. Or it could be something completely different.

Steve Merager 16:41
Having men and women in the same room, they can see things differently. They can see what that diversity might look like. Who else it might affect that somebody else may not be thinking about. The pay off is that we can then see something different and make an even wiser decision.

Jess Dewell 17:30
Question everything because we only know what we know. And when we only know what we know, provided we are willing and will show up to have an openness and an ability to see something else around us, that something else that might add insight to make the best decision possible for that period of time, is really important.

Steve Merager 19:35
It doesn’t diminish either side that somebody else is right in their own way.

Steve Merager 22:49
The more somebody is open to the different stories, the better the outcome is going to be.

Steve Merager 23:06
Oftentimes this the CEO and the CFO. They’re typically the only ones really who know everything that’s going on in the organization.

Jess Dewell 24:13
Once we’re operating in a vacuum, we have no sense of where our blind spots are anymore. We have no sense what we might accidentally be excluding or closed to.

Steve Merager 25:51
People actually love paying their bills when they’re asked to. And this is a critical thing. If a bill goes over 60 days, and for certain 90 days, and the client isn’t asked to pay it? They will assume that you don’t really want that money, and that invoice will go to the bottom of the pile until you ask. It’s critical to somebody’s business process that they contact their clients as soon as possible to get that money in.

Steve Merager 27:09
The thing about money is it’s almost a stand in a proxy for so many of the things that we think we want.

Steve Merager 34:18
Most people don’t start their business wanting to do their financials. In fact, people hate doing financials. If they look at it, it’s like they’re going to get a tooth extracted or something.

Steve Merager 40:19
There has to be a leader. Even in the most collegial environments, somebody should stand up and say what is going to be the end point? What is success?

Steve Merager 43:51
Once people know what success looks like, they’re far more willing to buy in because , “Okay, I get it.”  And especially if you can get the entire organization to go in the same direction, then its success by the entire organization which is so much more powerful for most people than individual success.

Steve Merager 49:29
It can be difficult. And whenever anything’s difficult, that’s my definition bold.



useful, project, financials, blind spots, living documents, thinking, perspective, integrity



How do we use financials, showing us a single point in time of past performance, to set future direction and stay on track toward growth goals?

We tend to look at financials for past performance, which is a necessary indicator for a snapshot of time. How does this point in time align to growth goals and overall growth strategy? That’s the question of the hour as Jess Dewell talks with Steve Merager, Fractional CFO and business strategist.

If you like The Voice of Bold Business Radio, please share with your friends and colleagues, subscribe, and review our show on iTunes.

Before you leave, make sure to check out our previous #VBBRadio episodes, or subscribe to our YouTube Chanel.