Apr 13

Financial Operating Model with Kimberly Jenkins

How does a financial operating model help you with your sales goals, budget, and future forecast of your business? What is it like to educate on the issues of race and social justice in today’s world? How can creative entrepreneurs learn to value their time, service, and products?

Financial Operating Model with Kimberly Jenkins

In today’s episode, I’m joined by Kimberly Jenkins, educator, researcher, and founder of The Fashion and Race Database. Kim is also the Founder of Artis Solomon, an education consultancy that provides academic and creative solutions for a more intelligent fashion system.

Kim was also recently named to the Vogue Business 100 Innovators for her work amongst the top sustainability thought leaders changing the world of fashion.

The featured finance term in this episode is Financial Operating Model, the process of creating a summary of a company’s expenses and earnings in the form of a spreadsheet that can be used to calculate the impact of a future event or decision.

Lessons on Why We Wear What We Wear

As a fashion educator, Kim’s classes, creative projects, and consulting business work to emphasize one thing- we must know our history to understand the present and determine the future.

When it comes to business, her work in teaching and sharing fashion history helps us become more knowledgeable about what we wear and uncovers the underappreciated stories about why we wear what we wear.

Difficult truth: we are never really taught or trained on how to be an entrepreneur or exist in this space.

The Knowlege Economy

We are living in the information age, especially in the last few years. In this era of fake news, people want the facts. When it comes to social justice, people are wondering things like: What do I need to do? How can I be part of the solution? What history am I missing?  They want a vetted professional or someone knowledgeable to give them the facts and information.  

Since 2020 we are learning that there needs to be a refined model for this. People building businesses want to be educated. Kim realized she could create a consultancy in the fashion industry for companies that need help when it comes to issues related to race and social justice, which is how her business started.

From Educator to Business Owner

In 2020 Kim realized how serious the need for her work was among many potential client groups. She had heavy hitters in fashion and culture reaching out to her, and yet she knew if she wasn’t ready they would move on to someone else. 

In the year leading up to starting a business, Kim was coming from academia. Education is culturally seen as “feminine” and within the realm of service, so moving into the territory of monetizing was not always perceived as a good idea by others. Her work seemed to be expected as a service to the field of academia and was not properly compensated. Her dad was the one who encouraged her to charge for her platform.

Kim had to decide to become a CEO. When it comes to the work that she put in and sustainability, she was learning to build a new business model. People in leadership often have to go with their gut and it paid off. The first six months came with a huge learning curve. There were many hoops to jump through, but Kim says she loves a challenge.

Learning to Price for Compensation

There was a huge learning curve when it came to figuring out how to compensate for her labor, pay herself, and afford the software she used, as well as the bookkeeping and accounting systems. She researched her top competitors and structured her pricing models on these. The pricing model suits the expenses and the value of the work.

A challenge for many creative entrepreneurs is the idea of valuing time, services, and products. This can create moments when people try to lowball offers. The reality is we have a systemic problem around creativity and valuing knowledge and Kim admits at times it’s taken a toll on her mental health. Being the only woman in a space, particularly a woman of color has been a struggle. 

Integrating a Financial Operating Model in Business

Having a financial operating model and strategy of where and how to spend money is so important. The structure of the tools found in the Cashflow Program has been so helpful in organizing the financials and making plans for the future. 

The two tools that have been the most valuable to students are:

Flash Report – a snapshot of your company’s assets and liabilities as well as Accounts Payable (the money your business owes to others) and Accounts Receivable (the money others owe to you).

90-Day Cash Flow Dashboard – real talk – this is the same exact structure that the largest, most sophisticated companies use to manage cash flow. Why? Because volatility is real and things happen – so 90-days is really the closest you can plan in detail as it relates to the cash moving in and out of your business.

A Day in the Life

The work Kim does is stressful and deals with her own lived experience. It can get personal and emotional. That is why it’s important to create a safe space and a sanctuary to nurture and care for herself. 

Being an entrepreneur can be solitary even though she rents office space. She spends much of her time at her home office. When she is home her apartment is her sanctuary. It’s peaceful. Rituals and routines are so important to her- working out to clear her head, time blocks for focused work, and having an end-of-day shut-off. Categorizing and theming her days are also helpful 

Advice for Aspiring Enteprens 

Within reason, just do it! Start somewhere to get the ball rolling. Don’t get caught up in things being perfect. The worst that can happen is that you find out it didn’t work out as you thought, but at least you did it. You don’t want to go through life with the what-ifs. 

Simple Finance Resources for Small Business Owners:

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