Profit First

Written by: Alex Bulmer

Eradicating Entrepreneurial Poverty 

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If something must  be done in a year, it’ll be done in a year. If something must be done next week, it’ll be done  next week. If something must be done tomorrow, it’ll be done tomorrow. This notion was  first introduced by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, a British historian, and is now known as  Parkinson’s Law.  

We plan based on how much time we have, and when the deadline approaches, we  start to make choices and tradeoffs to do what must be done to complete the task by the  deadline. As small business owners, we can all testify to this. Now apply Parkinson’s Law  to your business. Financially, what are you trading off?  

The GAAP formula has taught us that SALES – EXPENSES = PROFIT. A very simple  and straightforward statement. Unfortunately, it’s a lie and only looks good on paper. In the  GAAP formula, profit is a left over or something that is a hopefully a nice surprise at the end  of the year.  

Imagine flipping the formula. SALES – PROFIT = EXPENSES, also known as Profit  First.  

The concept of Profit First accounts for the entrepreneur’s behavior. With Profit  First, a predetermined percentage of profit from every sale first is allocated to a separate  account (pay yourself) and only the remainder is available for expenses. Parkinson’s law,  by taking profit first, the money available for expenses lessens, and we are forced to find  ways to get the same things done for less money. 

Most entrepreneurs don’t have the time to read the various accounting statements  necessary to manage the financial aspect of their business. The Income Statement,  Balance sheet, and Cash Flow statement should be evaluated monthly, at minimum, but  few entrepreneurs do. Instead, “bank balance accounting” is used and the daily balance in  the bank is used to make financial decisions. Per Parkinson’s Law, we consume what we  see, thus leaving entrepreneurs in poverty.  

Many entrepreneurs try to force themselves to be a better at accounting and  become more disciplined in managing their finances- relying on a whole lot of will power.  Profit First does not try to change your habits, instead, Profit First works with your existing  habits. By first allocating money to different accounts, and then removing the temptation to  “borrow” from yourself, your business will become fiscally strong and you will benefit from  regular profit distributions.  

Our motto at 3 Pillars Bookkeeping is to be, “The Partner you can Count on.” In  addition to our existing services, we would love to help you utilize Profit First to guide your  small business to greater profitability.

About the author:

Alex Bulmer

Alex has over 23 years in the restaurant industry and 7 years’ experience in the bookkeeping & accounting industry. He’s also a QuickBooks Pro Advisor.

As a restaurant owner for over 16 years, Alex knows how daunting accounting can be for the small business owner, but he also knows the importance of understanding the numbers to run the operations of a business efficiently. Either you are too busy running the operations of your business, or perhaps there is a simple lack of knowing what all is involved when it comes to payroll, or perhaps it is a severe case of paralysis of analysis. In either case, it is his aim to be that trusted partner and consultant (CFO if you will) to aid in the financial, payroll and human resources part of the business so you can focus on why you got into business for yourself in the first place – enjoyment.

Alex Bulmer
Three Pillars Bookkeeping and Three Pillars Business Services

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