Hard To Swallow Pills and Reporting our 18/19 Second Quarter Results

Well, normally this update would be a quarterly update and I could fire some big numbers your way and we would get on with our day. But today I have some team updates that will impact how Benifactor operates for the foreseeable future.

Powerful Women of Benifactor.jpg

Two amazing leaders in the Benifactor community, Mariam Ghani and Stephanie Field, have given me their notice and are moving on to new adventures.

Mariam began her career at Frontier working directly for me and Emily Cheevers, Frontier’s first real General Manager [I don’t count]. We struggled to find her weakness. She was absorbing new information like Neo in the Matrix.

Thankfully, we were training Mariam to judo chop the charity world and raise millions for Canada’s poorest people, for babies and new mums, for those without proper access to education, and for people seeking recovery from addiction.

Mariam’s four year rise to General Manager has been a sight to behold. When Frontier needed a change of leadership, I asked her to watch Gladiator. I needed a soldier to lead Rome.

Early on into the movie (she managed to watch all of the Director’s cut edition) the dying emperor asks his General, played by Russell Crowe, to become General Manager. And this happens:

Marcus Aurelius:

Won't you accept this great honor that I have offered you?

Maximus:

With all my heart, no.

Marcus Aurelius:

Maximus, that is why it must be you.

She got the point. What began next was the greatest run Frontier has ever been on, and a trajectory of client and corporate success that is a testament to her great leadership.

What Mariam and Stephanie have in common is an ability to grow other leaders too. The Benifactor world is blessed with leaders of all types. Nick Tassell continues to guide our team and clients and encourage the growth of talented and emerging leaders, like Chantal New.

Though we’ll be sad and happy for Sophie Wooding while she goes on parental leave this winter, we can count our lucky stars that Katie Mutrie has been a self-driven learning machine since her first week on the job.

Matt Hussey continues to embarrass me with his knack for growing our revenue while also beaming with positivity. All at a younger age than when I was in charge of Frontier’s clients’ success.

Thanks to Stephanie’s work as Good Marketers Group’s GM, her steady efforts to step-up our HR processes, her amiability and unflappable exterior, we have a team in place that’s ready to step up and lead as her and others move on.

Benifactor is a sports team, not a family. For more on this subject, please read this article. While I’m sad to retire Mariam and Stephanie’s jerseys, I’m curious to observe the development of the new cohort that attended my “newbie’s” presentation.

Finally, our leadership and corporate structure changed in a third way this Spring - Chris Primeau is no longer with Benifactor, and Capstone Fundraising has been shut down.

I have the utmost respect for Chris and the leadership he provides to the charitable sector, within his family, and to the church community. While Capstone, which provided major giving consulting to charities, didn’t find its footing I trust Chris will. Chris is a team player and strategic thinker and a smart charity will one day call him their Executive Director.

So, finances.

For our fiscal 2018/2019 third quarter the company posted quarterly revenue of $625 thousand, an increase from $561 thousand the year-ago quarter.

Continuing the trend of growth over the last two years, our revenue this quarter is 46% higher than two years ago.

This year has been the year of moderate growth. I’m expecting that the fourth quarter will be similar.

Sadly, in spite of such growth, net cash was quite negative at -$41 thousand versus last year an increase of $54 thousand. This issue is top of mind for day to day operations for the fourth quarter.

Some other highlights:

  • Glass Register now has 18 active clients, representing slow and steady growth.

  • Frontier’s revenue is up over $200 thousand year-to-date compared to last year.

  • Charity Electric, though it’s struggled to meet targets, has created new processes to deliver incredible websites, rebrands, and marketing plans for our clients.

If you have any questions or comments based on this letter, feel free to email me at ben@benifactor.com.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Johnson, CEO

April 2019

I decided to write this letter while flying this month. Or more precisely, if I didn’t write this letter while flying, I’m not sure if I’d ever get it done. In 30 days I’ll have flown to Moncton, Edmonton (twice), Calgary, Kelowna, Toronto and Vancouver. Spring has sprung, which for Benifactor means the season of growth and new opportunities.

When I was a kid summer was the busy season in Christina Lake and instead of enjoying the warm summers that brought all the tourists, I flew as an unaccompanied minor to visit my grandparents and other relatives. This continued into my teens, ending in a missed flight and free accommodations courtesy of Delta airlines and a very grateful letter to the airline from my mum.

My youth trained me to accept change as a constant where others might, as my recent travel companion has demonstrated, heave into a vomit bag. Conversely, proceeding through life at a walking pace makes my soul ache.

This month, I want to write about one of our five P’s, Procreation, and announce our newest venture, BKeeper.

About five years ago Frontier had just hired Zach Bulick as creative director and shortly after made a series of great hires, including Sophie Wooding, Nick Tassell, and Mariam Ghani—the three of whom recently completed four years of employment—and we were riding high. We had more work than we could shake a stick at, an enormous new office, and a great team.

As an entrepreneur, my job was done.

We were, from then on, going to refine Frontier’s purpose. We capped our client list at a dozen—allowing for some chuckles due to my bakery roots—and made a point to tell our clients about our vision to be a team of twelve with a dozen clients. We even swapped offices with our next door neighbours to fit into a space that was just right.  

My time at the office dwindled and I spent much of the summer on my front porch bored and aimless. I’d committed to a vision that kept me from disrupting the work environment that would allow the Frontier team to thrive. But the downside was that I failed to find my purpose.

Then, the journey began again, accidentally. New leads kept coming in, and instead of saying no, I said Frontier’s full but I could do the work myself. Later that summer while out on a date I watched the Electric Timber Co play and thought, wouldn’t Charity Electric Co be a fun name for all this side hustle I’m doing?

There’s now a team of five with two former employees, and over half a million in revenue from serving charities across the country.

Finally, in spring 2016 I reframed the whole picture. What if Frontier was the prequel to a larger story that was just beginning?

I wanted a company name that spoke to the angel investing/venture capital world as I was beginning my infatuation with the show Billions, and I wanted it to have my name in it so I couldn’t work myself out of the business as I had done with Frontier. I also wanted it to speak to my desire to create social impact through business.

Thus Benifactor Capital was conceived.

My role as CEO, aside from these letters and connecting people, is to spur on creation. Profit is the work of a great team with excellent processes who manage their boundaries well, but without procreation, we will slowly mature and ultimately die.

One major challenge for our team is working within different phases of the entrepreneurial journey. While the Frontier team continues to mature as a multi-million dollar business, others need to count every cent and hold multiple roles.

One major opportunity for our team is that, when an established team engages with procreation, it could mean the birthing of a new enterprise. The Frontier team created Glass Register as a solution to our own needs to build better donation forms. Our rising HR costs ended with the creation of Good Marketers Group.

Now, in response to our rising bookkeeping costs, and to quell ongoing requests for a referral to a fast, efficient, and cost-effective bookkeeper, this summer we’ll be launching BKeeper. And, it’s with great pleasure that I’ve asked Sarah Kryzmowski, another great hire from 2015, to be its first general manager.

On May 1, her first day on the job, Sarah will be tasked with sorting transactions for six organizations with plans to add two more over the summer.

BKeeper’s colour within the spectrum will be honey and will make ample use of puns involving bees. For instance:

Our purpose is to take the sting out of bookkeeping; our joy is looking after your honeypot. We believe there’s pride in doing the small things well. By coming alongside your organization and overseeing your most basic transactions, our hope is to let you do what you do best and blossom to your full potential.

By creating new organizations and empowering entrepreneurial leaders, I feel connected to my purpose and ultimately my creator. It’s central to Benifactor but it might not be your cup of tea. If you’re in our community and don’t see yourself as creative or akin to change, I simply request that you become a defender of the new.

Your gifts might be in analyzing existing systems or optimizing processes, and with those gifts we can truly achieve greatness. But fear and criticism of emerging ideas is a different story. We all need to be caretakers of the vulnerable, and that includes innovation. I will end my letter with a quote from one of my favourite movies, Ratatouille, which speaks to the heart of what I ask of you all:

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talents, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new; an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking, is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core.“

PS -  2018’s Annual Reports are finally here! Take a gander at all the milestones we achieved together last year:

Frontier
Charity Electric

March 2019

Dear Reader,

This month, Benifactor took a step forward in our efforts to be cool and launched our social profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. And, chances are, you were notified of this letter thanks to our newly formed email list.

If there’s anything you’d like to see, including me wearing my daughter’s age 6/7 dress, message me on any of those channels or email ben@benifactor.com.

The initial vision for Benifactor is just shy of three years old and, just like my kids when they were about that age, it’s starting to form its own personality. We have established core values, a framework for management that lets our general managers take ownership, and a stabilized structure that allows us to grow into our adult frame.

Through communication here and on social media, I’m hoping to leverage the protégé effect. Or, in the words of the Stoic philosopher Seneca, “While we teach, we learn.'' Last summer I made the leap to publicize my monthly letters that I started writing in April 2017. With that change, the tone had to adjust, and a new layer of accountability was set to emerge by opening the content to anyone.

To requote my October 2018 letter, “I want our community to be on display and be attractive to potential new hires, and I want to provide a sense of accountability to the alumni that have worked here and gone on to bigger and better things.”  

So here we are.

Today, I wanted to write on one of our more curious of the 5 Ps within our management framework: Protectionism.

Last summer while we were debriefing the year that was and preparing for the year ahead, former General Manager of Charity Electric Jonathan Horvatin said, “I want a nationalistic CE.”

What I heard was, he wanted CE to go national, and so I wrote that down. Thankfully, he clarified what he said and the result was both astonishing and brilliant.

Nationalism, as an ideology, is generally popular with the Donald Trumps of the world—those promoting “America First” and other xenophobic or jingoistic behaviour—but it has its merits. It’s trying to unify a group around a central identity and defend the weakest of the group from the strongest of the outsiders.

Talk to any politician who espouses nationalism and they’ll be promoting hand in hand the concept of protectionism. The purpose of protectionism is to protect the most vulnerable locals who would otherwise be overwhelmed by global forces and to ensure that those elsewhere don’t reap unfair advantages from the efforts forged by the locals.

And while identity can be used for malicious purposes, with identity forms a clarity of purpose.

Protectionism forces clarity. It requires an ongoing study of where your boundaries end and another’s begins. If procreation is pursuing the unknown frontier, protectionism is understanding its borders.

In the same way some of us can suffer from codependency, our little conglomerate was forming unhealthy dependencies as well. We all work together, and it’s generally good to have a sense of mutual obligation to support one another; however, we must understand the difference between healthy interdependence and unhealthy codependence.

In a nutshell, our management framework has a pillar dedicated to understanding how our actions affect others.

A colleague recently said to me, quite frankly, that not all change here has been good. I would affirm that statement wholeheartedly. I’ve had serious missteps, often acted without full clarity, or moved forward without a deep understanding of how it would affect others.

Entrepreneurialism is at the core of Benifactor. Each summer we’ll be launching a new business with five already in our portfolio. Next month I hope to share with you our next business along with discussing our fifth P: Procreation.  

But it’s this counterbalance to unbridled entrepreneurship that I’m most thankful for. Progress comes at a cost. If those costs can be mitigated through increased clarity and communication, then I think our organization will benefit immensely.

We generally see more success as a collective or, as a friend recently said:

“you can only jump so high on a trampoline alone, you need others to double bounce each other to greatness”.

Frontier, Charity Electric, Good Marketers Group, Glass Register, and Capstone can achieve more as an ohana. And to quote Lilo Pelekai, “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”

However, what family tends to lack is biodiversity. Too similar and a single virus can wipe everyone out.

In our case, we’re working to emphasize our differences so as to avoid a black swan event. If Frontier loses a key client, it shouldn’t correlate to significant losses within Charity Electric or Glass Register. They shouldn’t also be pursuing the same contracts.

On a broader level, Benifactor’s next business can’t be a marketing agency as hiring “Good Marketers” is reaching deep within a shallow pool. And as great as Victoria is, we need to forge out to Calgary and beyond to avoid growing our roots too deeply within a single location.

The culture I’ve grown up in, and continue to flourish in, praises the new as a virtue. My desire with Benifactor is to celebrate the benefits of innovation and entrepreneurship while respecting and affirming the emerging and the established. There is a vulnerability in announcing this desire so publicly, but I hope the additional accountability further ensures it lives out within our organization.

Reporting our 18/19 Second Quarter Results

Dear Reader,


We’ve made it through half our fiscal year. And what a half it’s been! We’ve posted revenue of $1.6 million for the first half of the year and are on pace to have revenue just shy of $3 million for the year.   


Six months in to our new budgetary process exposes us to the educated guesses made last summer. Happy surprises have happened.  I didn’t anticipate with much precision the timing of Frontier’s client growth, or that Good Marketers Group would be so far along with its recruitment services.


But also there’s the inevitable hidden obstacles to a productive year. I didn’t anticipate the loss of key staff members, our struggles to secure grant-revenue for clients, or Charity Electric and Capstone both missing quarterly revenue targets.   


Having a budget is one thing, choosing how you use it is another. As a year progresses you’re challenged to fit reality into a static budget, or choose to adapt it according to the shifting landscape. We’ve chosen the latter.


As each quarter closes, we adjust our upcoming quarterly budgets. There’s a shared vision of what makes for a successful year, but a good budget shouldn’t be inflexible to circumstance.


And so, we end the second quarter and begin the third. The third quarter of our year is defined as a time of discipline. Before the entrepreneurial fires can burn hot with the summer sun we need to tread carefully through the dark winter.


For the last two years I have not managed this quarter well. This time last year Shift Agency was quickly losing clients, eventually leading to an end of March shut down. Charity Electric had taken on additional overhead while losing an anchor client, and Frontier was beginning a reorganization internally dubbed, “the staffening”.


Each of the two years I’ve lost a senior leader during this period and I directly attribute it to the over-ambitious growth plans we’ve had in the spring while the organization is most fragile.

These painful lessons have taught me that our operations are highly seasonal and a mistimed or excessive investment in growth can expose us to harm if other operations underperform.


The lessons of the past have taught me not to start anything new until Summer and I’m currently learning more advanced principles within that rule. For instance, I neglected to allocate budget whatsoever to the start up costs of that summer venture in quarter four. Another lesson learned.


And now, here’s some numbers about the recently completed quarter.


For our fiscal 2018/2019 second quarter the company posted quarterly revenue of $871 thousand, an increase from $856 thousand the year-ago quarter. Large numbers, but remarkably similar. And, as similar as a year ago was, two years ago is different, with revenue of $461k representing an increase of 89% over two years.


I expected to cross the $800 thousand mark for revenue but was pleasantly surprised to see the growth in revenue considering Frontier’s efforts to front-load their fall fundraising work. The Frontier team continues to perform above expectations.


As I mentioned in the last update our focus is on net cash flow. We generated net cash increase of $118 thousand last quarter and expected this quarter to be negative.  Well, we managed to post -$24 thousand this quarter, a 70% improvement over the year-ago quarter.


The quarterly goal of keeping the low from getting too low was by and large a success. Next year I hope we can have both quarters be net positive. In order to do this we’ll need a strong performance from Charity Electric and Capstone who both struggled to match quarterly revenue expectations.

Some other highlights:

  • Glass Register’s revenue is up 42% from the year-ago quarter

  • Frontier spent $150 thousand on people this quarter

  • Charity Electric last 12 months revenue have grown 35% over the previous period

  • Good Marketers recruitment revenue exceeded $10,000 in revenue this quarter

  • Capstone has begun working with its fourth client

If you have any questions or comments based on this letter, feel free to email me at ben@benifactor.com.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Johnson, CEO

January 2019

It’s January, and the sports gods have blessed me with another year of Patriots magic. 17 years ago, I became a fan of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. In the intervening years, I marvelled at their ability to sustain success in an era of unprecedented parity and move forward when key players have left. Hate them or love them, there may never be a team like this ever again.

For those of you that don’t know, the key to the Patriots’ success can be summed up in this quote from Rob Gronkowski this weekend:

“I've just been fighting all year long so when situations come like this I'm ready to go and ready to make some plays. So whatever coaches ask me to do I'm always down to try my best and give it my all."

The system that’s lead one team to nine Super Bowls in the last 17 years has a very particular understanding of talent and effort. It understands that each person can’t give their everything all the time, nor do they have skills for every situation or task. But for every person there’s a situation or a skill that, when they give it their all, they can achieve collective greatness.

Speaking of teams, as promised last month, I now have the opportunity to gush about mine. The cast of characters may have changed since my first season of entrepreneurship, and there are days I miss some of those people dearly, but I am always in awe of the brilliance that is Benficator’s greatest asset—its people.

I have the honour of being the face of our team’s success on many occasions and it’s an embarrassingly lucky privilege. 24 year old Ben gets more than his share of credit for starting Frontier. And while praise for achievement is great, especially if you’re type 3 in the enneagram, it crosses the line when the work of others is ignored or taken for granted. For every achievement we make in life there’s always a team.


If it weren’t for the sacrifices my mum made, I couldn’t possibly have finished my degree at 20.

If it weren’t for the trust that people like Don Manning, Genesa Greening or Chris Mah placed in me, Frontier wouldn’t have gotten off the ground.

If it weren’t for the risks that Heath Johns, Luke Taylor, Derek Weiss, Emily Cheevers and Blythe Kingcroft took in joining forces with me, Frontier would be a solo consulting business.

No one said it better than fellow 3 on the enneagram Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“So how can I ever claim to be self-made? To accept that mantle discounts every person and every piece of advice that got me here. And it gives the wrong impression — that you can do it alone.

I couldn’t. And odds are, you can’t either.”

There’s always a team.

Our 5 Ps, the management framework for annual planning begins with People. Examples of items within this pillar include defining the roles and responsibilities of team members, or hiring new talent. This framework ensures that people remain a top priority, along with Profit and Process, areas I’ve spoken about in the past, and Protectionism and Procreation, which I’ll speak on in the near future.

Recently, we’ve had the joy of celebrating two people that have worked for Frontier for four years now, Sophie Wooding and Nick Tassell. They’ve poured their vocational souls into the production efforts of Frontier’s fundraising machine and emerged as soft-spoken leaders.

I remember their initial interviews and months vividly and am honoured to have seen them grow to become the core of Frontier’s latest team.

Nick’s puns are just a small glimpse at his insightfulness. His skill at seeing improvements to production have led Frontier into a period of unprecedented production excellence.

And Sophie, the most efficient employee I’ve ever witnessed, contributes as a leader with quiet determination. She’s taken hold of Frontier’s print production with an open-mind to continuous learning that I hope forces Frontier to keep up with her voracious aptitude.

The least we can do is give these two an extra week off.

Meanwhile, we have what seems like a tie for rookie of the year. Matt “my work son” Hussey and Innes “the bloke from Bristol” Purdue have just completed a year’s employment and I haven’t seen better rookie seasons since we drafted Mariam Ghani in the spring of 2015.

Matt’s optimism and hustle, along with his organization and communication, make him one of Frontier’s luckiest hires ever.

I look forward to seeing the growth in him and, by extension, Frontier’s client success.

Innes joined last year to be a sidecar edition to Jonathan Horvatin’s then-solo ride at Charity Electric. It didn’t take long for Innes to grow out of his initial role and become the most insightful person I’ve ever worked with. I always look forward to my meetings with him, which I’ve dubbed Insights with Innes.

As our team is getting older and beginning to grow their own humans, we’re finally at a stage where we can support our team while they raise our future Good Marketer’s apprentices.

There’s been some mums and dads to work here, but none we want back more than Silvana Allendes, our first-ever Good Marketer apprentice, now Digital Marketing Assistant at Frontier and soon-to-be proud mum.

All that to say, I’m happy to announce we have started a 10 month, $500 per month, parental leave stipend to pitch in while Silvana and future parents focus on what matters most.

Lastly, we’ve added another tier to our Health Spending Accounts for managers and turned it into a Health Wellness Account where they can not only pay to get their teeth polished, but also get dodgeball fees reimbursed as a taxable benefit. Dreams do come true.

If you know anything about small business and entrepreneurship, you know how good it feels to be able to add benefits like these. I feel so freaking lucky that we can continuously improve our ability to use capital to reinforce culture.

December 2018


Dear Reader,

I’d intended on writing this month’s update from my hometown of Calgary, having connected with Chris Primeau, the interim General Manager of Capstone, but instead, I’m on my couch typing this letter with the flu.

Whenever I’m feeling ill and have to power through, I remember Michael Jordan’s 1997 NBA finals performance, dubbed “the flu game” and like every kid of my generation, I want to be like Mike, so here we are.  

A few weeks ago we had our Frontier Feast, celebrating 8 years of business, and it was amazing. A special thanks to Stephanie Meine, aka “Outside Steph,” who poured her heart and soul into the event. 30 people gathered for the first-ever celebration of Frontier. This process of celebration is fairly new for us, but boy did we get off to a great start.

On top of that fun, we raised $540 for one of our oldest clients, the Dandelion Society (matched by Benifactor to $1080) as guests had to RSVP with a donation. Well done everyone!

We’ve now entered the winter months at Benifactor, and based on what we’ve learned about the cycle of growth, I’m using the phrase “Don’t Invade Russia in the Winter” to remind our team (mostly me) not to start anything new until the summer. Until spring has sprung everything new is an idea that deserves refinement and not action.

By starting something new in the summer, we allow for it to patiently grow while our other organizations are in full bloom. Then, in the final half of the year, when the other organizations are at their weakest, the new venture should be starting to bloom and be contributing to the whole.

That’s the hope we have in Capstone Fundraising, our newest venture. One year ago today, I sat down with Chris and we mapped out the basics of what him joining the team would look like - with Chris on board, Benifactor would operate out of Calgary as well as Victoria. Although it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve had a remote team member, Chris joining our company entailed something bigger than that. And now here we are!

Capstone has a brand, a purpose, and initial processes. Chris and the other GMs have worked hard to establish Protectionism — our term for making sure that there’s interdependence but not co-dependence — and I can already see the efforts beginning to bear fruit. Which leads to me to a very Benifactor worldview.

Profitability without Process is just a paycheque.

[I wanted to say prostitution, but that seemed too crass]

Frontier is, by and large, a well-oiled machine. Its processes are continually refined and growth has been constant over the last eight years with little to no biz dev. It’s a fairly predictable organization because of the constant focus on processes instead of immediate return.

Unfortunately, in recent years that wasn’t our focus with Charity Electric. Our efforts to establish process were weak, and the services performed ended up inconsistent. Colleagues who’d trusted the Frontier brand and were willing to place their faith in Charity Electric were often unsatisfied with their experience.

In the end, Charity Electric’s third year of operations saw a lot of growth and impressive profitability, but it wasn’t sustainable. Processes weren’t documented, making the next project as difficult as the last, and errors highly likely to occur (and they did).

I’m proud to say that Francis’ team is now making great strides to focus first and foremost on process rather than profit. It’s not sexy, but it serves the whole instead of the individual. In fact, it can take years before great process takes full effect and the fruit of its labour can be completely seen.

Similarly, we’re asking Capstone and Good Marketers Group (in year two but still establishing itself), to continue to prioritize building processes, as well as hitting budget goals.

Before long, we’ll be celebrating 8 years of growth for Charity Electric, Glass Register, Good Marketers Group, and Capstone, and it will be their focus on effective processes that helped them reach such a coveted milestone.

This month, I decided to focus on talking a little bit about one of our five P’s, “Process”. Next month is “People”. Namely, I look forward to gushing about a few people who have passed their four years of employment, and changes we’re making to benefits and parental leave. In the meantime, I wanted to leave you all with an excerpt from a speech Theodore Roosevelt wrote.

It turns out the ‘other’ basketball G.O.A.T, Lebron James, recites this speech before each game. I looked into it and believe it’s a helpful mantra for anyone embarking on an entrepreneurial journey. It’s a reminder to anyone who needs to tune out the naysayers or look beyond their imperfections while engaging on a brave new journey. And I hope the gendered language doesn’t take away from its great message:

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Johnson, CEO


Reporting our 2018 First Quarter Results

Dear Reader,

Today marks a first. Since beginning to share these letters publicly I’ve refrained from using cuss words and overly intimate details of my life (two habits of the past), but I also kept currency out of the communication. Now, I attempt to talk publicly about financial performance to a digital community without being legally mandated to do so.

So, why? Transparency is, to me, a universal good. These updates are a means of accountability as a financial steward and small business leader to the community (you). Imagine if more privately-controlled companies disclosed their performance. Perhaps there would be more ethical behaviour as well as a greater financial literacy among communities.

But first, a few words about people and not numbers. Zachary D. Bulick, a friend to many, and loyal employee since fall 2014, has decided to move on. After a sabbatical of 40 days and 40 nights Zach let me know that he was resigning his post as Chief of Staff. Zach has been my right hand man since he blessed Victoria with his presence four years ago. He shaped the vision for our current office, fleshed out our core values, and fostered the growth of our young management team.

When Zach joined Frontier, he transformed us. Nearly five years ago I tried to share a vision of where Frontier was going with him, but the strange feelings I had to combat were that the vision I had was conditional on having a people and thought leader like him join to make it a reality. I literally changed our name when he joined (from Frontier Consulting to Frontier Marketing Co) and moved offices to suit the leap we’d made having him entrust a period of his career to us (we moved into a space literally ten times bigger).

In one’s entrepreneurial journey many faces will come and go, but few people truly leave their fingerprints everywhere the way Zach has. Zach’s powerful empathy and grasp of intentional design-mind is embedded in our culture. Each new employee receives a Birkman report, and therefore an advanced knowledge of their work style and needs, thanks to him. Our office has a cheap and cheerful look, not strictly because that’s his style, but thanks to his intense research into spaces and our needs do we have the aesthetic that we do.

I’m going to miss the greatest complimentary leader I’ve ever worked alongside. His departure marks the ending of an era. Our leadership, myself included, is thrust into an arena of greater independence. Zach cheered us on, encouraged us, sat with us when we needed to cry. He leaves as a legacy a leadership team ready for greatness thanks to him. I hope I can make him proud from wherever he chooses to go next.

Okay, numbers time.

For our fiscal 2018 first quarter the company posted quarterly revenue of $738 thousand, an increase of 11% from the year-ago quarter. Two years ago our first quarter revenue sat at a mere $461 thousand, representing an increase of 60% over two years.

While this is a record-breaking first quarter it comes with caveats. Our largest-ever quarter was Q2 last year and management at Frontier has been actively working to front-load as much of their fall fundraising as possible. Mission accomplished I say.

I’m expecting a $800 thousand second quarter which would be a record, so stay tuned.

Our focus will be on net cash flow, as opposed to profit and loss, not simply to avoid profitability discussions but simply because our highly seasonal and growth-oriented operations distort profit and create a highly challenging cash management environment. If I’m starting to age after a lifetime of boyish looks, it’s because of cash flow.

We generated net cash increase of $118 thousand this quarter, compared to $62 thousand for the year-ago quarter and, for perspective, -$81 thousand the previous quarter. It’s been quite an up and down journey.

The second quarter has always been a negative cash flow period. My goal is to keep the low from getting too low. One strategy we’ve begun employing, along with front-loading work, is to front-load annual expenses such as insurance, subscriptions, and office expenses. I would estimate we’ve spent about $15 thousand in such expenses in this period that would otherwise be at various times throughout the year.

Some other highlights:

  • 73% of operating expense are on people (employees and contractors)

  • After free rent for the first 18 months we’ll be finally paying rent in Q2

  • Glass Register’s revenue is up 35% from the year-ago quarter

  • Capstone’s revenue is over $10,000, its second quarter of operations

  • Good Marketer’s earned its first revenue from recruitment services

  • Charity Electric increased service revenue two fold compared to two years ago

  • Frontier (now 8 years old!) has also doubled service revenue compared to two years ago

Since this is the first of these types of updates, and I hope to do them each quarter, I welcome feedback and questions. Shoot me an email at ben@benifactor.com if anything struck you.


Sincerely,

Benjamin Johnson, CEO

We're Looking For an Office Manager

It’s been a season of change at Benifactor and a new opening has emerged for the right person to join the team and help take our crew to the next level. We’re in no rush to fill the role, simply looking for you!

About Us

Benifactor Capital exists to be a home for entrepreneurial leaders to co-create and manage great organizations. Eight years ago we launched Frontier Marketing Company, and since have launched several other great businesses. At our core is a group of outstanding General Managers that the ‘B team’ (the CEO, you and some advisors) finds and equips primarily through culture and capital. There’s about 20 of us, mostly marketers, mostly serving charities. We’re mostly a group of millennials, that like to help organizations that do good, be great. Our annual revenue from our five + companies is ~$3 Million (and you get to help oversee it).

About You

You are bright, enthusiastic and have a nice balance of personal accountability, flexibility, collaboration and humour. You are a self professed organization guru with an outstanding attention to detail. Anticipating needs is a prized skill of yours. You’re ready to help with any and all little things to keep our team running at their best.

The Gig

You’ll work directly with Benifactor’s CEO, Ben, to keep Benifactor and our companies running behind the scenes. You’ll also bring your own personality to the team to help our culture thrive.

Major Responsibilities You would’ve done recently

  • Answer slack messages, text messages, gmail, phone calls, and shouts from across the room.

  • Take ownership of the physical office’s appearance when it got to messy, turned on the Sonos, and contributed to culture with your presence.

  • Assist the CEO with his project of the month (order party supplies, research policies say).

  • Upon discovering the toilets were clogged, call the plumbers, find a mop and clean.

  • When one of our key employees brings her dog to work, give him a walk around the block.

  • Maintaining rental Google sheets, HR and how-to Google docs, to keep our process on point.

  • Assist in preparing for meetings with people like our Executive Coach.

  • Order office supplies, coffee, snacks, macarons, flowers, etc. to keep our culture kick ass.

  • Take pictures of meals expenses and send to our book keeper, forward invoices sent to us each month.

  • Light up our credit card paying contractors on-time.

  • Plan or coordinate team events and seasonal decorating to bring joy to our day to day.

  • Welcome the UPS guy, potential new hires, and random lady looking for CBC radio.

  • Read books on the Birkman and Enneagram to further psychoanalyze fellow employees.

  • Any other tasks as needed. You might as well be called Random Task (bonus: you get the reference).

Must Haves

You:  Don’t take no crap from nobody, self-starter, intuitive thinker, detail oriented and flexible.

More details

20-32 hours a week at $18-28/hour (ranging from “I’m new to this but this is a job I can crush” to “I’ll own this career”) with a flexible schedule. For more information, email ben@benifactor.com.