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Finance Archives - The Strategy Specialist


Be Very Careful NOT To Take Your Bread & Butter For Granted

By | Finance | No Comments

Prioritizing and Time Management are KEY!  In fact… it’s the ONLY way you can get ahead of the pack.  It’s literally the make or break.

Anyone who works with me knows I am driven by metrics, time, productivity, and accuracy.  Literally, my day is mapped out in increments of time from most important to least important.

I have a full time job, a family, a social life (sort-of…. it’s more like my husband’s personal cheerleader and back-up dancer) – I give a great deal of my time to others i.e. strategizing operations, consulting, etc.  I’m a personal bookkeeper and personal assistant to a few of my dear friends LOL….

But the ONE thing I know for sure…. rain or shine… no matter what I have going on in my personal life or with my side hustle……

I BETTER DELIVER IN MY POSITION THAT FEEDS ME!  No matter how exciting of a project I have, no matter the next million $ idea I come up with…. THE MINUTE I STOP PRODUCING WILL BE THE MOMENT I FAIL.

I learned a LONG time ago that I am only valuable as long as I am producing….. End of Story – It doesn’t matter how great I think I am, whether I think I’m needed, whether I think someone will be understanding if my productivity decreases for this reason or that reason….  Business cannot sustain with bouts of poor performance no matter what the reason.  And if you’re an employee of a business, know that your employment will not continue with bouts of poor performance.

So now let’s talk about perception… Everyone is going to have an opinion of you…. whether it’s accurate or not… fair or not.  When I first started at the City of LV, I was a Court Clerk coming into a department with many tenured women at least 10 years my senior.  I quickly learned what was valued and managed to become employee of the month each and every month because it was ‘graded’ on how many customers were accurately served within a shift.  I discovered how to be quite efficient with the processes and month after month, my stats ranked me at the top.  Because I produced well over the expected amount, often times I would ‘log out’ and go to the bathroom, make a personal call in the break room, or reconcile my checkbook on company time.  My manager… who was NOT a fan, would attempt to write me up and I would kindly… well actually not very kindly (I was pretty cocky back then) say, “Please refer to the q matic report which clearly shows I out perform anyone on the floor.” Oh she hated me!  But I learned a valuable lesson.  When you make yourself invaluable and outperform your counterparts…. your job is pretty darn secure – And whatever the perception is…. you have legitimate proof that you are meeting the organization’s expectations that were set forth.

I’ve also experienced the opposite – It IS hard to juggle multiple things at once and sometimes people overextend themselves.  I’ve worked with many people whose intentions are honorable but because of poor planning or poor prioritization, things fall through the cracks and their performance suffers.  And when they’re called on the carpet, it turns into a dramatic and emotional scandal as if they’ve been unfairly targeted.  And the sad part is….they didn’t cover their ass to prove their productivity or job performance…. so in the midst of the ‘attack’ they flail without a leg to stand on….

Ladies and Gentleman… this is Strategy 101

  • Prioritize
  • Manage Your Time Accordingly
  • Produce and Make Sure It’s Documented
  • Outwork/Outperform Your Counterparts…. Especially if the ‘perception’ is that you have a side hustle that is taking priority, or take too many personal calls, or take too many days off, or whatever is potentially taking your focus off of your main responsibilities.
Never allow your reputation to be tarnished!  Maintain your personal integrity and be Thankful for Your Bread & Butter!

What do you REALLY bring to the table AND does the other side VALUE it the SAME way YOU DO?

By | Finance, Leadership, Strategy | No Comments

This is a SUPER HOT topic that I HOPE generates a lot of internal conversation!  It’s been incredibly helpful in my personal and professional growth… not to mention my mental stability.

Every time I start to complain or pity myself or deflect responsibility…. I take the emotion out of it and analyze it!  Sometimes I discover it is my fault and I have control over the outcome.  Other times I discover that it is something I do not have control over so therefore I have to decide if I am going to accept it or move on.  Here is a funny example at my personal expense to set the stage for an open and honest dialogue intended to inspire you to look at your life as it is currently and access what it will take for you to achieve happiness.

Women… we are competitive by nature.  Anytime we get in a new relationship we have done all of the investigating on ex’s, current interests etc. so we can ‘measure’ where we stand.  Hell…. if we spent that kind of energy strategizing our professional lives…. we could take over the world in a heartbeat!

Oh and gentleman…. you can thank me privately…. ’cause I’m about to blow your mind and illustrate a behind the scenes account as to the  levels of CRAZY women are.

Here is the problem… as we go down the list…. she has this, I have this, she does this I do that…..
We FORGET to add the most important part – WHAT DOES THE OTHER PARTY VALUE?

Here goes a visual for your viewing pleasure (please note – I have actually completed this exercise many times and it took many years for me to figure out it was worthless until I added the third column) SMH

Yellow indicates what I value.  Blue indicates what HE values….

Literally, I could be twirling from the ceiling with gold dust coming out of my ass i.e. degrees, promotions, growing savings account …… over there thinking I’m REALLY doing something but guess what?

HE DOESN’T VALUE IT!  So…. according to the chart…. Unless I am willing to get a better body, become more spontaneous and sexually adventurous…… I don’t stand a chance because our VALUES are NOT in alignment!

So… NOW let’s apply this to CAREER STRATEGY (see table below)

I’ve been in this situation a million times and Lord knows I am a patient woman…..
Sometimes it works to my advantage… other times… it results in missed opportunity.  So this exercise is incredibly important and SHOUD be applied and AUDITED on a regular basis….

REMEMBER – Time is precious…. you will never get it back…. And there is nothing worse than being my age knowing that I COULD HAVE made changes…. I knew better….. and I didn’t cut my losses quickly enough.

Out of 11 Possible Qualities – Only 4 Match

Do you see the problem here?

So – when you find yourself in this situation…. you can to do the following:

  • Make sure your list is as honest as possible on both sides.  You can even take it a step further and group qualities together by most important, somewhat important etc.
  • Making sure this framework is as precise as possible before taking it to the analysis level will be key – so if you’re going to do this exercise… don’t half ass it – make it as detailed as possible because in all honestly…. your life, your future, your happiness, and your peace of mind depends on it!  Allow a second and third set of eyes to review it so YOU can also be held accountable – You know… we often times believe the lies we tell ourselves (another blog post about that coming soon LOL)
  • Decide if you are willing to evolve and showcase the qualities that your employer values
  • Make sure that IF you decide to do that, that it’s not moving you out of your authenticity because (a) it won’t be believable and (b) it will only make you bitter and resentful even if you can ‘fake it’.
  • Document what you think the outcome will be IF you do make strategy adjustments and do a quarterly check in to determine if you hypothesis is correct.

PS – This is also a valuable exercise for employees who are wanting to quantify their ‘worth’ as they climb the organizational ladder –

Fortunately or unfortunately… this way of thinking comes naturally to me.

Because of it…. I have no friends LOL and I’m NOT very fun and spontaneous…. Unless I’m drunk… which is why my husband has me on a champagne or vodka drip LOL…. but not really a LOL  – because that’s a true story.
What I can tell you is that I am at the extreme to the far right with these principles….
Most people are to the left of the center because this way of thinking isn’t taught in school which is incredibly unfortunate.
Give it a try… and I am happy to help set up up the table for you!  I’m telling you…. if you look at life in this fashion…. it REALLY helps with accountability, honesty and transparency…  I’ve set up a table like this to define my expectations for my son and my husband… It just is what it is…. and as long as you’re honest with yourself when creating it… Its a quick reference for when values, expectations, and deliverables start to shift… It allows for a platform to resolve tough issues respectfully and with honor.

E Payments – Merchant Processing Is Scary!

By | Finance | No Comments

Do you remember the good old days when all of your payments were either check or cash and it was in hand and could be documented the old fashioned way?

I felt so in control… there was a file, a photo copy, a ‘paid’ stamp on the invoice.  So many checks and balances…. And then, technology evolves…. and the world of providing convenience to our customers is not an option but an expectation…..

And for my Dance Studio Owners… you quickly embrace the change because everyone says you have to and in your mind you believe this is going to be a game changer…. No more Sally, chained to the front desk accepting tuition payments and generating receipts (YES!).

And before you know it, you’re filling out merchant applications, signing up for gateways (what is a gateway anyway), or even better, there is an automatic merchant relationship with your existing software (Thank Goodness! They for sure have your best interests at heart!)

And AWAY you go!  Money In… Money Out…. Your bookkeeper is just reconciling your Quick Books or Quicken Account according to the bank statement…. This is so much better? Right?

Well what I am sure most haven’t done – and I say this only because it took me YEARS to figure it out and even understand the terms….  Is REALLY dissect and audit the Merchant Statement.

Bankcard Rate
Amex Rate (if applicable)
Statement Fee
Internet Service Fee
PCI Non-Validation Fee

Or even better….. the ‘accidental charges’ due to human error

Even now, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around all of this.  Between the bank statements, the credit card statements, the merchant statements…. line by line…. tracking any and everything…. My errors, their errors, outside fraud!  It’s a full time job!  And as a small business owner… we have all the time in the world to become experts in finance right?  Or better yet… pay someone $75-$150 an hour to put the financial pieces of our lives together and connect the dots….

If any of this resonates with you…. may I offer two solutions –

#1  Feel free to reach out to me personally with your challenges and I would be happy to make recommendations (No Charge of Course) amberasandoval@gmail.com –

#2 Reach out to an amazing merchant services advocate who has saved thousands of dollars for many in the dance industry (I’ve heard direct testimony from a colleague) and who also took the time at NO CHARGE to review all of my merchant accounts recently and gave me incredible feedback and peace of mind.

Phil Hinke is a former merchant services provider, now merchant customer advocate!  His website is a wealth of information…. but if you don’t have the time to digest it all and/or don’t feel confident with the terms and processes…. shoot him an email and he will do the analysis for you and break it down in simple terms with direct action items!

Phil Hinke
Founder & President
MerchantFeeSavers, LLC
800 379 0412
623 340 4596


Remember…. If you are processing $90,000 a year in credit cards….
And are paying 3.5% plus fees = $3150 + fees…

Just imagine what 2.5% plus reduced fees = $2250 + reduced fees

That’s quite a savings ($900 annually + additional savings on fees)

It’s worth the time to email.  It’s worth it to have peace of mind.  You owe it to yourself to be in control of your business and have the knowledge and the power to negotiate terms that are in YOUR best interest!