By Sadell Bradley
Catalyst Strategist

I’m excited to be closing in on my sixth month working at MORTAR! I’ve heard wonderful ideas and testimonies of triumph and growth from our graduates. In hiring me, our founders desired to go beyond just showcasing great launch stories, to offering continual coaching, resourcing, support and accountability to MORTAR Alumni for at least 18 months after graduation.

As the Catalyst Strategist that works with MORTAR Alumni; I am tasked with asking our entrepreneurs probing questions about their lives and businesses. Some of the most critical are on their PERSONAL NUMBERS: the number of hours they work on their business, income, expenses, assets, liabilities, credit scores, etc.  I ask if they have a budget or are in debt. Eventually they realize that personal numbers positively or negatively shape or at least affect the time and resources they have available and their ability to launch and sustain their business.

Then I ask about their BUSINESS NUMBERS: pricing and break even points, budget to actual, balance sheets, etc. Some MORTAR students are learning this business vernacular for the very first time. It’s somewhat shocking for them to differentiate between what they THINK they’re doing financially, and what is ACTUALLY happening on paper.  Initially, it’s daunting, but then it’s is eye-opening and ofttimes relieving when an entrepreneur chooses to embrace the fact that numbers are a big part of life and business. When they invest time to know and report what those figures are, they are are one step closer to moving their business from an idea, hobby or a side hustle to an established entity. They know exactly where they stand.

EVERYTHING has a number: the time we schedule for meetings, the amount of each ingredient we use for a recipe, the size of the design for our marketing materials, the taxes we charge and pay, the mileage we track in our vehicles, our payroll expenses, and the price we charge for our services.  If we are averse to numbers, we’re going to be in serious trouble. Unfortunately, many Americans are avoiding their numbers. US savings and retirement rates are abysmal.

According to a Federal Reserve report, nearly HALF (47%) of Americans couldn’t cover a $400 emergency expense without borrowing the money or selling something. Even more alarming is that many people have NO SAVINGS at all. In fact, almost 30% report having a ZERO BALANCE, and 62% have less than $1,000 in savings, according to a survey by GOBankingRates.com. If personal numbers are this bleak, entrepreneurs with dismal numbers have major problems paying their bills. To address this MORTAR has partnership with SCORE, banks and financial professionals to assist our students.

MORTAR is about changing family trees. We want to provide our entrepreneurs the chance to create and sustain businesses that will financially advance their families. We want them to be able to offer jobs to their friends and neighbors. The more successful we are this, the closer we’ll be to building sustainable communities.