In this edition of FinanciElle “Statements”, I had the opportunity to Interview Melody Saunders Brenna, CEO of Reef Life Restoration, a company specializing in oceanic infrastructure, using Nano-technology and Nano-science to rebuild the Ocean’s bone structure, and CEO and Co-Founder of Vicon Eco Systems Global Cellular Concrete Construction, a building materials nano technology company.
Paolina: What has been your hardest experience dealing with your business and finance and what did you learn?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial household and had my first company at age 22, however, marketing was my degree and still is my strength, so understanding the numbers, on which all companies must walk, ride, or go bust is a challenge.
One of our challenges is foreign currencies, the almost daily shift in valuations of said currencies with the American dollar. Another challenge is sustainability reporting for example related to Paris Climate Accord project valuations which take into account Co2 Usage, Raw materials, waste inclusion in manufacturing, (certainly waste outgo) and durability in an infrastructure project.
What I learned is that there are people, through training, insight, and frankly talent with numbers who can see through this fog. Every business rides on the back of the balance sheet, so the numbers guru is omnipotent in many of the managerial meetings: Do we source from here or there, during peak harvest, or down time? So many elements impact profitability.
Paolina: What advice do you wish you had gotten about finance when you were first starting your business?
When I took out my first SBA loan I was 22 and borrowed $55,000. I had done a preliminary spreadsheet, but had no idea the depth of numbers understanding a CFO should have to budget the expenditures.
The best advice I could have received, would have been to hire a part time numbers management person to analyze and help structure the financial payouts, purchase, and sales cycles.
I was selling to Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Their pay cycle was between 90 and 120 days!!! So, even though they ordered my custom hand painted china, picnic baskets and take to work lunch boxes, I had to be able to pay for staff, financing orders for each element, crating, shipping, continued marketing, etc. up front. Trying to learn factoring and payment scheduling for the long term could have been catastrophic—and if I had not continued to sell, and get additional orders—I could have been out of business, not paid artists, etc.—so the world works on financial planning and expertise—that is for sure!!!
Paolina: What topics would you want to learn more about when it comes to finance and your business and why?
I would like to learn more about sustainability reporting.
Just because the USA is not in Tuned to the Paris Climate Accord and EU 2030, which focus on finite natural resources, the rest of us must be. There will come a day soon when businesses will be devalued by raw materials misuse, no matter your bank account, so it behooves us all to have an understanding of sustainability reporting and operating a business in a sustainable way, and how it impacts our financial and business performance. The world is such an open book especially with the use of social media and other media outlets, if your company is engaging in practices that focus just on the bottom line, and don’t take into account the environment and social responsible and sustainable practices, to increase profitability, your customers will know about it, and so will the world, so there’s lots to learn for all of us in business.
If you’d like to learn more about nanotechnology as a solution for restoring reefs, listen to this podcast interview with Melody.