Tell me a bit about yourself, your company, and what you do.
My name is Michael Allen Jennings. My wife, Stephanie, and I moved to Orange Village almost four years ago from Chicago. I have two children—5 and 2 years old.
Over the course of my career, I’ve found that a major factor that keeps a lot of small business owners stuck where they are is their fear, loathing, and misunderstanding of money and how it flows through their business. I help people understand the money in their business better, so that they can use that knowledge as a source of power. My company is Whitehazel CFO, and I help businesses solve the problems that are limiting their ability to grow or thrive.
Yes, I’m a CPA, but I’m not what most people thing of when they hear “CPA” or “accountant”. I’m not the guy who does your taxes. I’m a former corporate CFO who specializes in using management accounting to solve problems and support strategic development.
What drew you to LaunchHouse? What’s been your favorite part so far?
The majority of the work I do is either on site with a customer or remote. For the past five years, when I’m not in a customer’s conference room, I’m in my home office.
LaunchHouse drew me in for the opportunity to work in an active space that isn’t a coffee shop.
My favorite part so far—besides the people I’ve met—has been the ability to use the conference rooms. I’m a one-person company, and I’m very selective and purposeful with how I spend my time. Having an option where customers can come to me means I’m able to help more people with my limited time.
If you run a company, what has that been like? What advice do you have for others trying to start and run their own company?
My advice to those just starting a business is very similar to what I tell those who have been in business for decades: don’t let anyone scare you with numbers.
As a business owner you’ll be targeted by every “financial expert” who can pass some licensing or certification exam and/or throw up a WIX website. They will try to use FEAR as a weapon to sell you on their services. If they can make you feel scared and stupid, they can present themselves as your savior.
Remember, no one knows your business better than you, and the best way to continue to evolve and grow your business is to strategically seek out fresh perspective and new skills that help you to grow. You can plan, do, and measure all of that with numbers.
What has it been like to work outside of the typical corporate 9-5 job? What advice do you have for others considering coworking?
My advice to those considering coworking is twofold: First, be strategic about how you’re going to use the space. Second, be open to other possibilities; If it’s not what you think it’s going to be, don’t get stuck on what you “thought it would be like.”
What is the best career or entrepreneur advice you ever received?
“Think bigger.” Bigger doesn’t mean that your business has to get to the point of being unwieldy or unmanageable. Thinking bigger means thinking about business over the long-term and how you will learn and evolve the business. Thinking bigger means bettering yourself and your business and has nothing to do with the size of your income statement.
What has been your biggest learning experience?
Every person you talk to has a different perspective and comes from a different context. There’s power in understanding that because, as I mentioned above, strategically adding new perspective to your work is a key part of development and growth.
In order to learn from another’s perspective we have to be willing to set our ego aside and accept that there is validity in other perspectives.
Over my career, there have been times when I haven’t been as open to that as I can be. In those situations, I failed myself as much as I failed those I was trying to help.
How do you define success?
Whether my plan succeeds or fails, success is applying what I learned to the next plan.