#210 – Business Financial Strategies With Brandon Neely

Thomas Green here with ethical marketing service on the episode today we have Brandon Neely. Brandon, welcome. Thanks thomas for having me. I’m excited to be here. It is my pleasure. Would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do. Yeah. First off, I love the ethical marketing uh um point because when I first started in business, we were um we started a brick and mortar coffee shop and it was all about ethical economics and community building. Those were two main points. And the reason we did that was because we learned about the injustice in the coffee world and you know, saying, oh, somebody needs to do something about that. And what I’ve learned if you keep getting that little nudge or somebody needs to do something about that. Usually it’s like God or some higher being saying that’s probably you. So we, we started this ethical coffee shop, which was, we wanted to be a nonprofit for profit hybrid.

It was not a thing. We became a social enterprise. It was cutting edge apparently. Um, and launched that coffee shop. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done because I didn’t have a rich relative to give me all the money to start it. We bootstrapped and launched that. And then, uh, and we’ve had some challenges in that for sure, which I might get into. But then we had a, that thing happened, you know, my wife became pregnant. Um, that’s a big thing and we realized kind of a challenge that’s gonna have, we’re gonna have to face was having a baby and knowing it’s illegal to have a baby behind the food bar and all that stuff. Um, so we were like, well, I think we might need to transition and sell. So we sold that business didn’t know what we’re gonna do. Um, but then ended up of all things in the financial services world, learn it like because I was able to sell that business.

I didn’t realize it was an anomaly to be able to sell most businesses apparently closed and all of that. But we had some financial strategies that got us through and ultimately led us to sell the business. So one of my friends who is now my mentor said, hey, you want to do what I do? And I was like, sure, that sounds awesome. I don’t have any other thing I’m gonna, I’m up for, um, and ended up getting into the financial services world and I did not know how opinionated the financial services world is. So that’s how I ended up here and then profit first certified as well. Well, thank you for the introduction. Um, I feel like this two part question, the first part is around for those that don’t know because it’s old news for you, but for those that aren’t aware why is, let’s say mass produced, mass produced coffee, unethical. And then the second part of that. So I don’t forget is, and what do you mean by financial services being opinionated? Oh yeah. Two totally different questions for sure.

Um, well, you think about it. Um, this idea and I don’t know if you’ve, um, research this or not, but like slavery exists right in a lot of ways. We get our clothing and I think about like buying ethical clothing right? Um, is the person that made the clothing, um, paid fairly and in the coffee world a lot of times there they are, um, making less than a dollar a day or Children are making it, you know, chocolate and cocoa and there’s been a lot of changes in the supply chain to become more. Um I’m not just saying, okay, slavery is, I don’t see slavery because I bought this thing and I don’t see it in my backyard, right? But we don’t realize that we bought something from somewhere else and that cheap cup of coffee cost somebody something. Um and so how do we think strategically about the purchases that we make and coffee being the second most widely traded commodity in the world?

Uh, and I’m in America Americans are the number one consumer of coffee. Um if you want to change the world, you know, getting the coffee world, but you can do a lot of change that way. And our slogan was change the world, one cup at a time, so did that, that really was the main reason and at the same time build a local community that can empower. So that cheers effect was kind of what we were going for. And then the financial services question, we knew our biggest risk was our business right in everything like and so on. Our financial services world, we’re taught, you know, go invest in big tech, go invest in this, go invest in that and you’ll make a lot of money. Um, but our biggest investment was our business and so we needed stability in place. We needed to be able to pay off our debt in a way that was smart.

Um, and, and we didn’t realize that, you know, the whole financial services world is about like, um, risk, no risk, no reward, right? That kind of idea. And what’s happening now is a lot of people are risking instead of savers, they haven’t built a foundation, they are um, putting everything on the line and maybe losing. Uh, and so we didn’t realize that there’s the Wall Street people and then there’s the insurance people and they fight back and forth. There’s the Dave Ramsey people and they, you know, we just knew that this concept in the profit first system changed our life as a business. We were ultimately able to sell a business as opposed to close the business because of our, the way we, we built our finances. That makes sense. Thank you for. Yeah, that it’s good clarification. Thank you for that. Um, I am interested are interested to ask you about profit first.

Um, but before we move on from your initial business, when you are referring to, let’s say some injustice within a mass produced product, product. Um, you mentioned fashion. Um, and the coffee is a new concept to me. How did you go about it being from an idea meaning, let’s start a ethical coffee shop to taking it into action. So what were the things that you did, which made you able to produce coffee in an ethical way? Yeah. One was having the relationships with a good roaster and a real like friendship with them, you know? Uh And another is like we mentored under people who had a coffee shop right? Most people think I have a great idea, I’m gonna go do it and and and they don’t take some time to learn under somebody else. So we took some time build some relationships that helped us get there.

Um And knowing like for me it’s a spiritual thing, I felt like we were called to do it And making the steps right, not just having a business plan but what do I need to do to uh grow it? So in the beginning we both had our corporate jobs, it was 2011 when we open um and and we made some shifts right to her, she left her job which she made more money to internet for free at another place. And then we bootstrapped, we actually literally um bought coffee in bulk Baghdad and sold it to our people um that we were building our email list for uh and we would put it in and um suitcases in the living room once a week. Uh And I was like man we are literally drug dealers um like seriously a bag of coffee on the l in Chicago.

Um So that’s how we got started and then you have to start building what I learned in in that whole system and our business name was overflow. Um as a business owner who’s a more of a giver, I feel like what I learned is I can’t help the people in africa if I’m not taking care of myself. And there was some times that literally, this is 10 years ago um um We had some big challenges. We almost had our, well my grandma died, my wife had a miscarriage, some other finance, some other things that happened, including finances, and we almost, like our marriage almost fell apart during that second year, and that was hard because I knew that we were called and we were moving in that direction, but we, when it was overflow, we weren’t taking care of ourselves, so we couldn’t overflow to the people around us.

And that was kind of an eye opening thing. And one of my mentors said, okay, you’ve paid off your debt, you’ve done this, how much are you paying yourself? And I was like, well that’s, that doesn’t matter. And that was a hard conversation to have because we weren’t valuing our own self, both physically, mentally and emotionally in our marriage, that we needed to make some changes and that’s ultimately led us to profit first. Um making sure we do date night regularly, because again, if you have a great business, but you’re divorced, that doesn’t, you know, help. Um And also making sure that I’m taking care of myself physically doing those habits, does that make sense? Yeah, perfect sense. I did when you said you had a coffee shop for some reason, I did envisage, you know, something akin to cost a coffee or something where people come in and sit down.

But you, you essentially a kind of like a wholesaler. Is that a good way to describe? That was in the beginning we were wholesalers before it opened and then we had the actual, um, door’s open. Right? And so you have to think when it comes to coffee, you get the product right? You get the beans, the green beans, uh, and then they go to a roaster, right? I wasn’t a roaster. So then the roaster sells it to me and then I sell it to the consumer, um, that’s how, like supply chain kind of thing. But we had an actual physical location, um, which was awesome. So you were, you’ve gone into business and you were busy, you were doing your thing with the shop, but essentially you was, it, is it right to say that you weren’t financially prioritizing yourself and you needed to make some different decisions. Do you want to share what that looked like?

So, so here’s the thing when you, when a kid comes into play, um, I can eat ramen all day long, um, you know, and, and that’s okay, right? But then when you have a child or like I was a caretaker of my mother in law, still still today, um, things shift and I realized like, hey, this kind of lifestyle, even though I started like taking care of ourselves, we were paying ourselves um better. We needed to make sure what kind of, what kind of life Do I want him to be? You know, do I want this, this child that’s coming in? You know? Is he going to be around the coffee shop for 20 years? Is that what, you know what, what, you know? And so kind of the, what we started thinking and this is what I think about with life and business is reverse engineering. Like reverse engineer. Where do I want to end up? And I thought I wanted to end up having this Uh, coffee shop for 30, 40 years, but that changed, right?

And so reverse engineering. Okay, what do I want to and then ended up leading me to Ohio of all places, which is not the place I thought I’d ever end up. Um That makes sense. Yeah. Um I mean sort of, for me, I am interested to know because you went from obviously from a financial perspective, shall we say, not doing well to doing well in your coffee shop and what made you want to leave it. Um I wish, uh sometimes in community there’s some other things that you don’t that we’re just not healthy. Um We were in a building that was got us where we started, but it wasn’t a healthy environment for us. Um, not maybe more emotionally healthy and that’s, that’s kind of where I’m like, all right. I think it’s time to go. Uh, and there was a point where, and again, this, this, maybe it’s a really huge thing.

Um, we had a flood in the business, literally the roof was off and the flood happened. And, and it was one of those days where one of these guys kept coming to me previously, how much do you want to sell this for? What do you want to do? What’s your number? And after the flood, I was like, man, I don’t not want this anymore. I don’t want to deal with floods and, and all of this. Um, and after we got recovered from the flood because of, we were able to recover from the flood because of the financial tools we put in place that helped us recover, but ultimately came in and I was like, hey, I want to know what your number is because again, having a, A wife who is four months pregnant, I didn’t start thinking, what am I going to do. Um, because those priorities had shifted. I loved what I did, but party shift when you have Family, you know, my customer might’ve been number one or # two.

Uh, he got bumped, you know, when you have a kid. So what, what did the potential buyer say? Oh, he’s been wanting me to do something for a long time. Um, and so we sold it. This is crazy. We saw that we were on a year to year lease and they, right after we sold it, the landlord kicked them out like literally six months later. Um, which I kinda knew and thought that was gonna happen because he had more financial resources, he was able to reopen and by building uh somewhere else. Um, which was pretty powerful and it’s still going to this day even since Covid. Um, and some of it, I think, man, I don’t know if I would have had the ah bandwidth to do what I’ve done even financial because I didn’t come from rich relatives to overcome Covid even as a coffee shop, but I bet you they did because of different streams of income.

That makes sense. I have no idea. I never walked down that path of golden keeping the coffee shop with a baby since Calvin, but um, some good experience for you there, right. Yeah. Oh man. Again, as I talked to clients and people, I love working with business owners and, and what happens when you start a business, oftentimes you’re in your twitter painted, I guess you could say it’s almost like you’re the first in love kind of thing and you think everything is gonna go perfect. Uh and, but you would never step into business if you knew all of the heartache and some of the stuff that’s going to happen and your, your hit brick walls um and and how that will work and so a lot of business owners, that’s why I love working with them is saying okay how do I help you? Um get in a better position? Like most business owners, this is, this is why again I love profit first.

Most businesses do not pay themselves business owners, they say I’ll pay myself later uh and they keep reinvesting in the business or divesting somewhere else and they don’t take care of their biggest asset which is them. And that was something that realized, hey we are our biggest asset like um employees are great all that, but if you don’t take care of that and and even uh as as if you sell the business, they’re gonna want to look at the balance sheet and say okay well how much were you making? Right because that’s that’s how are sales going to go. Ah And if you don’t have the proper um business developed, It might be a business that is has operation expense of 120%,, looks like it’s great. Um but they’re bringing in 100 and there in the red right? Um And so you want to have a profitable business, not a um bleeding business.

So what would you say to someone who was about to open a coffee shop? So they’re they’re basically day one, what advice do you give them? Um as a coffee shop, here’s the one thing I would say is do anything else, but that um you want to make money go into some other field, right? Uh but then here’s the thing in any business venture that I would say, I know that you know that you know that this is where you’re called, right? Like I have so much resolved and I think this is the problem in our culture. We we kind of say, oh, I know I’m going to do this, but then when things get hard, we quit, right? And so you have to know that, you know that, you know, right? And then step into it. Uh and then the other things find a good mentor um that’s done it five years, 10 years in and listen to them, don’t just think, you know, does that make sense?

So basically you’re going to get a lot of phone calls then after this and and we ended up creating our community here. Um what I hated when I had the coffee shop is this question when people would reach out and say, can I just pick your brain? I hate when people say that because I’m like, yeah, I just want to learn and and and they would want the shortcuts and some something about going through it. There’s a, there’s some pain that you’re going to experience, it’s going to be different than me, right? Um And sometimes, and and when they would come in and ask me, can I just pick your brain and they never bought a cup of coffee that would kiss me off. I’m like at least buy coffee when you’re gonna ask me for a $30,000 um consulting thing, right? Um Anyway, that was one of my pet peeves. So I love it when people do as long as they’re teachable and they buy a cup of coffee and they buy a cup of coffee or like you know now I’m in the financial services hey like a few comments like you know, comment on things, you know that stuff goes a long way in a lot of places.

So just for clarification, you said that you’re in financial services, what’s the actual job title, what do you do for people? Yeah. So I am a prophet first certified. Um So I know the Prophet first system. Every business owner should read profit first. I’m also a bank on yourself specialist. So in a in America there’s a thing with like having properly designed life insurance, whole life insurance that has a cash equivalent piece. Uh And so when we were doing are um into our business we are saving money 400 bucks a month per person into our life insurance policies. And we used our life insurance cash value to pay for or to take care of a high interest debt. Right? And so um that really put us in a better position uh to have leverage to be able to weather the storms uh and to um grow our business.

So if you combine the Prophet first system right? Um paying yourself first knowing those numbers. Uh and then you combine the infinite banking system um knowing that every everybody’s in the everybody’s in the banking business regardless of if we sell coffee or were a podcast producer. Right. Right. Right. Um we’re all in the banking business. Um how do I have more control over that system as well? That makes sense. So I may banking yourself certified and profit first certified. And more of what I think is I’m a catholic management specialist for business owners. Well the profit 1st, should we say the topic. I’ve spoken about it a couple of times but I’ve never heard anyone speak about infinite banking before. So um would you give a definition of what it means to you? Yeah. So this part is again it’s in using a properly designed whole life insurance policy that is designed more like you know, you know how in our businesses or in general we have to have um seeking funds or cash accounts, right?

And we’re told, invest in the market right, invest in this. What we do is that we divest away from whatever we’re doing. So what I love in in building my infinite banking policy is my greatest asset is me. If something happens to me, my wife would have been sunk. Right? So having this policy in place means that regardless of what happens, should at least be made whole to a degree. Um, I mean, you know, you never actually meet completely hold because of the emotional stuff, but um, financially, she would, she would be in a better place from from that side. But then we were able to use the cash part of the policy to um better position ourselves, whether it’s taken care of high interest debt or my trip to Ireland, I took a trip right before our son was born, we took a loan from our policy and then we paid it back.

Um, and we’ve done this with um are property in our house. So we have to pay um taxes, right? You know, every person has to pay taxes, right? So we we instead do a self escrow where we will pay our own taxes, which just happened to save it in our policy first and then pay it out from that, would you say? It’s a more of a flexible insurance policy than most standard life insurance policies. Yeah. And you wanna like find the right for me as a, as a advisor. I’m not just saying here, let me build this thing. I’m going to ask you, what are your dreams, what are your goals, what do you want this to do for you? And how is this going to feed into your dream of a coffee shop? Right? And how can we leverage the policy? Because it’s a savings, it’s not really an investment, but how can you use it to put yourself in a better position, Right?

And that’s that the power of that? Because then if you have cash all of a sudden you have more options, right? If you have the ability to buy something right now, options are open, right? But if everything is kind of in a, like in in America, we have the UG 401k. That we can’t touch until we’re 59 a half or, and we get penalized if we access it and we want to grow a business where we leave the job and then we’re kind of stuck. We have this money in jail um that we can’t use to grow our business. So then that seems odd. Can you clarify what the still method is for me? Yeah, so that’s a great one. We just created this. Um, so everybody’s in like a lot of times in chaos. It’s like that when it comes to money and the financial system, it’s confusing half hazard.

Um, anxious, overwhelming and stressful, right? That’s chaos. Uh and a lot of times people are in financial chaos, right? And they don’t even know it our world is actually meant to, to put us into that place. Um and there’s a marketer Donald Miller says if you confuse you lose. Um if you ever heard of him, he’s great author. Um and he said, if you, if you confuse you lose what I’ve learned in the financial codes and the tax codes, it’s meant to confuse us, right? Totally confuse us and make it so overwhelming that we just lose money. We lose everything different things. Business can be confusing. That’s why I love the prophet first method because it’s pretty simple if you just kind of understand how it, how it works. Um and you’re just using the percentage model. So then the still method is our method of overcoming chaos.

So the S stands for set your sights right? You have to actually have a goal and a plan of where you want to go right? And a lot of people are just sleepwalking through life, right? They don’t know. And you need to like set with it. Where do you want to go set your sights? Um then you need to track your in and out, not just have a goal, but what what’s going on? What’s going out if you’re, you know Making 100,000 but you’re spending 120. That’s going to be a bad thing, right? So tracking and out. That’s win at budgeting all that stuff. The eye is inspector progress, right? So you want to like just track it, but you’ve got to inspect and say, okay, I’m overspending here, I’m making stuff here. Um What do I need to do? Maybe the 80 20 rule. If you ever heard of that rule, Um focusing on the 20% that actually working dropped the other stuff. Um, Then you want to look for 1% adjustments.

So looking for The little things that you can do because if you do 1% adjustments over time, that really adds up not Big Hurdles, I’m going to be a millionaire tomorrow, but what are the 1% adjustments that I can make to get better? Right? And then the second l is live deliberately again not sleepwalking through life, but live deliberately in our business, in our finances with the products that we use to, to build our business and wealth. Um, and, and then you do this still method regularly. You don’t just say I reached it now we’re done right? That makes sense. Like it’s a, it’s kind of like a spiritual practice that you then go back in a month and say, okay, say your sites because I don’t know about you, but like sometimes I’m, I have a goal, but again something comes in the way, like not in a way, but like a child, right?

Those those goals might be altered a little bit, right? And so you have to do that again and you do that with your wife or significant other business partner. Um, just a simple way to figure out what your priorities are. And you could do this, not just with money, but with dating right? Or or your, you know, making sure, hey, am I having, I want to have a healthy marriage, right? Um, what, what I need to do track, Am I going on date nights with her? You know, inspect all that kind of stuff. Not just money. Thank you for that. Um, it does lead me onto one of the questions which I was going to ask you though, which is normally ask what your goals are, but now I can say what your sites. Yeah. I really like as I’m building this, I want to help more and more business owners just thrive, make it through. Um, and, and not see the failure rate, 85% of small businesses fail, not because of, um, what they, they didn’t have the passion.

They probably ran out of money Right in some regards. And so I want to see more and more businesses thrive. I want to see my son who’s four years old. Um, one of my goals is to have him visit six of the seven continents before he’s 18. Um, it’s a selfish goal. Um, because then I have to go with him to all those places. Um, so building that in, those are some of my sites and um, just, just serving more and more people. Well, thank you for that. I like, I tend to like the personal ones. So yeah, thank you for sharing it. Is there anything that I should have asked you about today. Yeah. I would say some were not very big people. I’m not going to buy a big million dollar house or anything like that, my wife’s a minimalist, so um sometimes I’m like, oh, what I’m growing our business, what do I want to do? I just want to make more impact, you know? Uh you know, I loved having being on here, sharing our story, the main thing I would love, because as you’re talking to business owners, right?

Um it’s like, like in into to your audience know that you know, that you want to do this and just actually do it. There’s so many people who talk about it, I call it the entrepreneurs, there’s a lot of entrepreneurs out there um and they don’t actually do anything, and sometimes I’m like, all right, I don’t want to, I want to talk to somebody who actually does podcasts, not just, oh, I would eventually do a podcast, but like, you know, the action takers take action um and and be a learner. Um yeah, I have a question for you, How do you learn, how did I learn what business or how do you learn anything like what do you do to learn and to grow yourself? I have typically described it as immersion or um you know, some people call it like tunnel vision or something, so if there’s something that you, as you say, you really, you really want to know how to do something or you really want to do something, you immerse yourself in that topic and you basically tunnel vision it until you know.

Exactly. Um Well you you’ve got at least some expertise. Um And but you know enough to move forward with that. And then when you do move forward with it, you get some feedback and you adjust your approach and you just keep doing, you keep doing it until you make the progress you want to make. Doesn’t sound very complex, but that’s what I do. But I also think about some of this. There’s so much information on the internet. You’ll find everything that you want on the internet, whether you wanna believe aliens exist or not, you’ll find it. Uh And I think that sometimes we’ll use our confirmation bias to say whole life insurance sucks. Uh And you should go this way and what I like to again ask people and and really says, what do you want? And can these things help you get to where you want not to get to where somebody else wants you to get. Um And that’s put put all your bias on the table and really think strategically, which is a hard thing to do.

And in our world I guess maybe do you have any closing thoughts for us today? That’s right. Um Yeah. Go if you want like you know, go to the still method and download that that cheat cheat. My closing thoughts is on for business owners. Um take control of your own destiny and realize like again, we’re all in the banking business, how do we best position ourselves where we take more of the lion’s share in our business And make sure again, read the prophet first, make sure you as a business owner are positioning yourself to create that muscle of paying yourself first. Um It can be, it doesn’t have to be at taps, which is 50% uh what Mike McCallum? It says 50 owners pay. You could start at 10%,, right? And then build it up. Um but create that muscle.

It’s almost like going to the gym, right? And you start doing that. I bet you the people around you are gonna love you more. And that just also shows that you care about yourself, not just the social impact or whatever else. It’s both hands. Yeah, well, I’ve heard a phrase something on the lines of look, look after yourself in the way that you look after a close friend that you care about. Something like that. And of course if you were thinking about, you know, another person’s behalf, you think, well of course you need to pay yourself properly. But when it’s you maybe you don’t think that. So I think profit first can help there. That was, you know, I’m a caretaker of my mother in law and and having a newborn, we were like, all right, things need to shift and and it wasn’t just me. Again, I could run on ramen Maybe wasn’t the healthiest thing. Right.

Um but you have to like, especially when other people care and or or around you. Again, if you think about that muscle, it was a child and and a senior that I had to take care of that put us in that position. But you can work on that muscle. You know, that’s again using the prophet first method and saying, okay 10% next quarter I’m gonna raise it to 11%. I’m gonna lower my opec’s or whatever. You know, again only, you know your business. Alright well if people want to connect with you to perhaps use one of your services or or follow any content that you might put out. Where do they go? So you can find our podcast, wealth wisdom, financial podcast on all the podcast places. Um if you go to Youtube, we have a lot of Youtube videos. We’ve been doing lots of content. They’re still growing that it, it takes time to build Youtube.

Um You just do a search of wealth wisdom financial and I believe you’ll find us. If you find a good pick good picture of of somebody who looks like me and another hot woman that’s my wife. Uh you know, subscribe to that and then go to the still method uh dot com and download that resource there and you will find us through all of those places. Brandon Neely thank you very much for being a great guest. Thanks for having me.