21 Oct, 2021
Meet Ben Cooper, founder of Amplify, and hear how he is helping business owners make better future-facing decisions by using Fathom’s dynamic forecasting tools in place of clunky spreadsheets. He shares how he helps give his clients clarity and confidence to move forward in their business.
Customer Catch Up
Ben Cooper at Amplify, United States
You help business owners find clarity in the numbers. How did you land in this role?
In 2016, I was a business consultant working alongside investors doing due diligence on the growth potential of small businesses. One day, I was sitting across the table from one entrepreneur who was trying to land an investment. Overwhelmed by the ambiguity of the numbers and projections, he asked, “Couldn’t we just hire you directly to help us build out a plan?”
I said “Yes,” and that was the beginning of Amplify.
What kinds of questions do you help business owners answer, specifically?
Most business owners start a business because of a specific skill or love they have. Then they get a few months down the road and are faced with questions like, “When can we afford to hire someone new?” or “How much revenue do we need to break even?” or even “How much money do we need to raise this year, and how would we spend it?”
Without insights into how dollars are flowing through the business, the best you can do is either guess or just try and do exactly what you did the previous month and hope nothing changes.
I love using numbers to bring clarity and a way forward. I get to see the peace of mind that comes when you know your business is heading in the right direction.
Why is forecasting important for a business?
It’s no secret that starting and running a business is an incredible amount of work, and it’s too risky to put all that time and money on the line by guessing. If you don’t have a clear destination ahead, external variables and forces can push you in a variety of unintended directions and cause you to lose sleep at night. And, sadly, that’s the reality for too many business owners.
For example, one of my clients, Nick, is the founder of this awesome company called Roam Adventure Co. When he hired Amplify, he wasn’t sure if or when he could quit his full-time job to grow the business. Once we built out the forecast for his company and he saw the future opportunity, he confidently made the leap into full-time work, and Roam is on pace to triple in size for the second year in a row.
How do you describe the type of work you’re doing?
I’ve been called everything from “investor insights for hire” to “fractional CFO and COO” to the more casual “business therapist.” I just like to say I’m a small business growth advisor. I care deeply about relationships and I love to see people experience freedom and flexibility as they grow their business.
You’ve made the switch to using Fathom for your forecasting. What led you there?
In the past few years, I manually built out dozens and dozens of growth plans using all sorts of other tools, and I kept getting frustrated with how temperamental spreadsheets can be, in addition to all the limitations of other platforms. When I dug into Fathom’s Forecasting capabilities, I became a Certified Fathom Advisor pretty quickly and haven’t looked back.
In my opinion, Fathom’s Business Roadmap tool is the holy grail of practical planning. From a technical standpoint, Fathom makes it easy to extrapolate into the future the historical financial patterns and relationships that are unique to your specific business. You can also look at key decisions you’re facing (hiring, expanding, raising money, etc.) and overlay the related financial implications to see how they would affect your cash position or ongoing profit margin.
I like being able to compare our forecasted plan to the actual live results (updated automatically from QuickBooks or Xero, for example), analyzing different possible scenarios and outcomes. Also, honestly, it’s beautiful, and that’s a bit of a rarity in the spreadsheet world.
Ok, so I’m a business owner using Fathom. I’ve already got access to the tool. How do you help me?
Whether you’re a business owner or an advisor, designing a solid Business Roadmap can be a little daunting. The 10 steps we follow when creating a forecast fall into three primary phases:
- SET: connect your financial data and pull historical relationships (revenue, variable costs, fixed expenses) into the future.
- PLAN: build a Roadmap of Microforecasts containing key decisions you’re considering in the coming months (hiring, expanding, raising money, etc.), along with the related cash flow implications.
- REVIEW: compare actual results each month against the plan, consider alternate potential scenarios, and take action accordingly.
I believe deep down that every business is better positioned for success when the owner can make clear decisions backed by reliable numbers (meaning you can sleep better at night).
Connect with Ben
Ben has fine-tuned his own successful step-by-step process that can help others confidently dive into forecasting – all laid out in easy, bite-sized steps. We’ll be releasing this forecasting workflow as part of a new guide and supporting webinar, launching in November 2021. Stay tuned for more details!
Ben Cooper has an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Acton School of Business in Austin. Before delving back into the land of numbers, he spent 8 years as a professional songwriter in Nashville. He currently lives in Westfield, Indiana, with his wife, Brittany and their four kiddos. When he’s not projecting out the future growth of businesses, you can find him reading 'The Far Side' or playing basketball with his kids.
Written by Shale Heidinger
Shale is one of Fathom’s Account Managers and is passionate about building lasting relationships with accountants and advisors to aid full utilization of the platform. From team training to strategic one-on-one sessions, Shale is focused on maximising user experience and rollout processes. She has 5 years of experience in Customer Success in a variety of industries and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology.